The Pastor’s Corner, March 2014

Dear OLPC Church Family,

As we enter the month of March, we commemorate the 40 days of Lent.  Traditionally, this is a time of prayer, meditation and spiritual renewal. Lent also presents us as a people of faith with a challenge–one that directs our attentions toward God in spite of the everyday chaos in our lives and our world. In the Lenten Season, we are also called to a time of penitence, introspection, and realization of our humanity. This means we must confront guilt and failings in our lives, as well as work on mending our broken relationships with God and one another. The Lenten season should be one that assists us in recognizing the presence of God’s hope and love in the crevices and gaps of life.

​Lent is a journey. Sometimes it’s one that we don’t want to take. Often, the sheer ritual of Lent makes us feel more obligated than committed. But I believe what theologian Renita Weems states in her book, Listening for God: A Minister’s Journey Through Silence and Doubt.  Weems states: “Rituals are routines that force us to move faithfully even when we no longer feel like being faithful. Until our heart has the time to arouse itself and find its way back to those we love, rituals make us show up for duty.”  It is a journey of renewal that beckons us away from our fast-paced lives, and prepares us to “slow down” and focus on God’s redemptive light in a seemingly chaotic world – – it shows us how important it is that in this chaotic world, we as God’s people are required to “show up for duty” and be ready to work when it comes to living out what God requires of us. Lent also gives us time to concentrate and be more receptive to the ways that God speaks to and through us. Despite the world’s horrors and shortcomings, Lent calls us to experience God’s new possibilities of redemption and spiritual growth so that we as disciples can face a hurting world with strength and powerful witness. As a family of believers here at OLPC, let us take this journey together knowing that God seeks to bring us to new vistas of faith.

​March is also Women’s History Month, and it marks the celebration of biblical, historical and contemporary women who have responded to the call of  peace, justice, equality, and humanity in the world. This month should also be a reminder that the celebration of the manifold gifts and contributions of women should not be limited to one month—or set time, but all the time. Women’s History Month is also a time of celebrating and acknowledging the ways that women both locally and globally, inspire, transform and enhance our lives.

In Christ,
Rev. Johnson

Rev. Alonzo T.  Johnson was Pastor of Oak Lane Presbyterian Church from 2003 to 2014.

The Pastor’s Corner, Winter 2014

There is something incredibly mesmerizing about snow, and lately we have had so much of it, it is actually starting to feel much like the winters of my youth. Of course being young, there was, with every snowfall, a hope that there would be no school the next day. Of course I didn’t have to drive or travel in it. It would be much later in life that I would begin to understand the strange look on my mother’s face every time the snow fell. It was a look of foreboding and dread which would only mean two things: one – that she would not be working the next day (therefore she would not be paid for that day) and two – that she would have to travel on public transportation in the arctic cold and snail-paced, slippery traffic. I don’t know about you but I like snow, but I do not necessarily like what it does. In this I mean that everything slows down, and after big storms, I feel somewhat left behind. Like the ground, my agenda freezes up. The cancellation of things just seems to set me back. In many ways life is like these storms, it blankets us, slows us down and makes us wait. Sometimes the waiting is excruciating, some of us are waiting for God’s confirmation that all will be well. Some are waiting with bated breath to hear a good medical report. Some of us are waiting to hear God’s good news that our finances or our relationships will be better, especially in a new year. Concomitantly, like Terry McMillan, some of us are just “waiting to exhale,” to find space for breath and rest from a stressful season and stressful year.

Wherever we are, we are always challenged to be prayerful and centered in Christ as we wait. As life sometimes blankets us, it is the power of the Holy Spirit that helps us endure. It is no surprise that the New Testament Greek word for spirit is pneuma – which also means ‘air’. It is God’s spirit that gives us breathing space especially when the shadow side of life seems, like snow, to cover everything, including our hopes and dreams. As Christians we are reminded by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians to “Pray without ceasing,” and to “give thanks” for God’s power in “all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

There is a great quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that in many ways is descriptive of the anticipation and uncertainty that comes with a new year, the quote is as follows: Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. In many ways the new year almost functions like a tabularasa, or clean slate where we can start over. In this new time, what will our resolutions, promises and steps of new faith look like? What will our centered prayers and hopes sound like? As people of faith, how will we be replenished, refreshed and ready to start anew? What will the new season reveal to us? Be open and centered so that the Holy Spirit can blow through us, replenish us and give us the space to grow in Christ.

In Christ,
Rev. Johnson

Rev. Alonzo T.  Johnson was Pastor of Oak Lane Presbyterian Church from 2003 to 2014.

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