Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving, Pilgrims on the Journey!

I want to share my gratitude for each of you and the ways you show up. I feel blessed by you and our first year together. And, talking turkey, we have a lot of work to do and a bright future ahead.

This Sunday, we begin the Season of Advent. The theme for this year is “Generation to Generation” – a chronological storyline of the events leading up to and following Christ’s birth. We will hone in on all the humans involved in the story.

From the creators of the Advent series: “Despite the challenges and vulnerability she faced, Mary could glimpse the scale and scope of the good news she was part of bringing forth. This good news transcends time and space – it was and is bigger than just her. Christ is coming for collective liberation: God’s redemption is at work for years to come. Therefore, the promise is meant to be lived out and passed on from generation to generation.

We are invited to look at the characters in our scriptures and wonder: What did each character pass on or contribute? How did each character participate in God’s liberation and love? Which characters try to thwart God’s justice, and what can we learn from them? What is our role now? What is our generation’s task? What will we carry forth, and what should we leave behind?”

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, however you celebrate. I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom. Invite a friend to share in the Advent journey!

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Giving Thanks

Grateful Friends,

We have come through the end of another church year, and this Sunday is celebrated  as “The Reign of Christ the King”. We celebrate with thanksgiving and are called to a loyalty that transcends every earthly claim on the human heart, moving from ordinary time into a new year that begins with Advent, waiting. Waiting for Emmanuel, “God with Us”.

This Sunday also recognizes the Annual Trans Day of Remembrance. Not unlike Jesus, our transgender siblings are not understood in the world as we know it and are subjected to modern day crucifixions. As we remember the beautiful beings taken from us by violence, we also celebrate their lives, give thanks for their existence, and commit to solidarity and a love for all of God’s children. 

I give thanks for each of you.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday at 10 am, in person or on Zoom.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Tides

Greetings “We the People”,

I pray that this finds you well and that your week has been blessed. 

Well, here we are at the end of another angst-ridden election cycle.  For months now, we’ve been buried in piles of political fliers and commentary. Red Tide, Blue Tide, Purple Tide, High Tide, Low Tide. And before the current cycle is even complete, the pundits are looking at the 2024 cycle and the ramifications of this cycle. The world is watching the follies of the United States and its deeply divided politics, while considering the future. Even with the disappointments, there is hope.

This week’s Scripture from the Gospel of Luke is apocryphal. False prophets, nation against nation, insurrections, earthquakes, famines, persecution, imprisonment – so much to look forward to. But we are told not a hair on our head will perish, and we will gain our souls. Strength and hope.

We’ve come through trials and tribulation. There will be more, and we will come through again. We are invested, and the world is invested, in good outcomes toward the more perfect union. It is an ongoing process. Our veterans have fought for it.

On Friday, Veterans Day, I invite you to take a moment during your day to hold our veterans in a moment of prayer. No matter where you stand on military issues, they have served our country and are, often, not adequately compensated for their sacrifice. There are still many among us who were dishonorably discharged for being authentically themselves. They are, as are we all, perfectly imperfect – part of the tides, the ebbs and flows, of our human existence.

And God will be with us through it all.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am in person or on Zoom.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

For All the Saints

Hello Saints!

I pray your Hallowe’en was filled with happy spirits. As I write this, the Annual Dia de Los Muertos Celebration and Festival of Altars is happening at Potrero del Sol Park in San Francisco. This gift from our siblings of Mexican descent, a blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion, and Spanish culture with roots dating 3000 years back to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, is a holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink, and celebration.

This Sunday, we will commemorate All Saints Day. I invite us not only to celebrate the traditional saints of the church but the saints within our individual lives and Island United. If you have any mementos or photos that you would like to share on the altar and with the community (if you are attending by Zoom, we’ll ask you to share on camera) of a beloved saint – deceased or living – in your life, please bring it. And if you are comfortable, I will ask you to share a brief oral description. I will be reflecting upon Luke 6:20-31 “The Blessings and the Woes”.

See you at 10 am Sunday, in person or on Zoom.

Let’s keep marching in!
Rev. Michael Cronin

Reform

Dear Ones,

As creatures of comfort, we like routine that isn’t called into question. Behaviors and practices become institutionalized. Church is a perfect example.

We come at 10 am. We sing, we pray, we hear a word, and we’re off to brunch by 11 am if the preacher isn’t long winded. We like the places we sit. We like the decor as it is. We like….

These past years have challenged our comfort levels. We have had to modify and change our processes in order to keep on keepin’ on. Our habitus has been disrupted, expectations reexamined, and our imaginations exercised.

We have had to rethink and reform. Be it COVID or the flooding of the sanctuary. Painful opportunities to do something differently and show resilience.

As Reformation Sunday approaches, let us meditate upon what changes we at Island United can embrace to better serve each other and the community at large. God says, “See, I am making all things new.” Martin Luther said, “We have to make a change.”

Reformation, renovation, reinvigoration, reemergence, restoration. These beautiful things don’t happen just once; they are a continuum.

Brent and I continue to be in isolation through this next week. We miss you terribly but will see you on Zoom as many of you continue to join together in the sanctuary or Zoom as well.

All love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Stories

Hello Authors,

Wasn’t last week’s hymn sing delightful? Not just the singing but learning the stories – inspirations and genesis – behind the hymns. I look forward to our Christmas Day hymn sing when we will be adding your stories as to why you like a particular hymn, especially since our theme will be “From Generation to Generation.”  

We have been together a full year now. Thank you for the birthday balloon and delicious cupcake to celebrate our first in, hopefully, many years to come. The song goes, “what a difference a day makes,” but I say look at what has happened in a year. At our congregational meeting, we reviewed the things we have done and talked about goals for the future. There are many pages yet to be written in the book called Island United. And even after many years together, I am sure there are still things to be learned about one another.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am, either in person or on Zoom as we explore Luke 18:9-14, Jesus’ story about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Are we one or the other? Sometimes one and the other?

Write on!
Rev. Michael Cronin

Make A Joyful Noise!

Beloved Community,

This Sunday, we will hold a Congregational Meeting for some business – a few reports, a few votes, a few bylaw amendments, and a whole lot of singing. It is said that those who sing pray twice. We will start the meeting with our 10 am “Hymn Sing!” to put us in a joyful mood by making a joyful noise.

We must have a simple majority in order to obtain a quorum.  Whether in person or on Zoom, please plan to attend for an important aspect of our congregational life.

Looking forward to hearing your angel voices,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Thank You, God

Friends of God,

In every moment, we have the opportunity to give thanks and praise. We often forget. Like the Pharisees, we “grumble, grumble, grumble.” I know I catch myself at it all the time.

What does it take to cultivate a grateful heart? Some like to journal, some like to sing, some like to pray. At the end of the day as I prepare to sleep, I try to think about three things in the day for which I am thankful. It makes a difference.

This Sunday, we will be looking at the story of the ten lepers and the power of a simple “Thank you.” I look forward to seeing you at 10 am in person or on Zoom.

With gratitude,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Increase Our Faith

Faithful Friends,

Some days are wonderful, and we rejoice, counting our blessings. Other days are challenging, indeed deflating. There is a southern phrase about those times when the stumbling blocks are many, one is at wits’ end, the fuse is short, faith is fleeting: “losing my religion.”

There is a popular song from the early 1990s by R.E.M – “Losing My Religion” – that speaks to a challenging love relationship. We’ve all had them. I remember talking to a pastor after a failed public relationship and the related disenchantment. Here words of wisdom were: “love people, trust God” toward forgiveness.

People will betray, hurt, and fail you. Challenges will befall you. Even in our trials and tribulations, God is with us. As the song goes, “faithful is our God.” And, in turn, we are called to be faithful to God. Things may not always go our way, but we are called to hope and trust in God, in the thick and thin. God will see us through.

In this week’s Scripture, the disciples call out to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” I invite you to join at 10 am this World Communion Sunday, in person or online, as I reflect upon this.

Keep the Faith!
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Have a look at our new enewsletter series titled “Congregational Confidential”. In this section, we engage a series of questions and answers with a congregant. You might learn something new about someone you’ve known for years or a short minute. Nancy and I will be looking for souls willing to bare for future editions. 

Into the Future

Friends on the Journey –

What a wonderful Homecoming Sunday celebration was had. We officially received four new members – Ann, Nancy, Marcus, and Brent. We recognized Alexis for her commitment and service during these past years. We enjoyed a delicious potluck feast lovingly coordinated by Rowe and Tim. It was a blessing to come together in a meal of love and friendship. Please have a look at the pictures at the end of this newsletter.

Today is the Autumnal Equinox. According to the Conscious Reminder Blog, the equinox is thought to represent: “the period of struggle between darkness and light, death and life. It occurs when the night and day will be equal, and the journey of the Sun to actually get there also signifies the journey of the Universe.” A liminal moment of transition.

This week at the UCC Summit “The Space Between: The Emerging Church in a Post-Pandemic World”, we were invited by Rev. Cameron Trimble of Convergence to a futurist literacy exercise: “Leading into the Future.” We were asked to be creative imagineers, anticipating what a probable view of the world, organizations and structures, spirituality and church will be in 2070 (beyond many of our lifetimes). With that in mind, we were asked to think on a desirable future and a reframing — all toward a return to planning in the present and to challenge our assumptions so we might be open to possibility, novelty, and emergence. There was a lot of stimulating conversation.

Why do I bring this up? As we enter into Fall, darkness and death, toward the gestation of Winter toward a rebirth in Spring, I ask you to vision and dream on the future of Island United. Go big. Is there something that you might help bring to the community-at-large? There is abundant possibility, and many colleagues have encouraging words about our future. We will be looking at goals in our Congregational Meeting on October 16.

New things to look for in upcoming newsletters: Church Council Corner and Member Bios. A synopsis of the Council meetings will be shared, and we will be asking congregants to tell a little about themselves via some short questions and answers. Keep your eyes peeled.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 10 am, in person or on Zoom. Invite a friend and share the love that is Island United.

All love,
Rev. Michael Cronin