Friday, July 28, 2017

Communicating with Love

We have all heard that for a church to live as a blessed community, we have to live differently from the society around us. We have heard this so often, it feels cliché and therefore worthy of being totally ignored. However, in the toxic climate in our society today, where violent communication is rampant, it is also quite true. Today we citizens of the United States have little trust in our institutions, whether the church, the government, our medical or legal system, or our employers. But it does not stop there. It has gotten so bad that only a third of all Americans trust each other. Why, it has gotten so bad most people won’t even trust others enough to bowl with them! All this mistrust leads to many arguments. Often people have gotten into the bind of thinking that anyone who argues against a favorite position (no matter what the topic) must be an enemy. Violence can and often does follow quickly in this sad scenario. Loving neighbors and enemies alike, as we Christians are called to do, is hard in times like these.
                But, there are things we can do to counter this problem. We can start by thinking of each other differently. We have to work hard, and what better time to practice than the long summer days, to believe that everyone is basically compassionate by nature. We have to believe that all violent strategies, whether verbal or physical, are learned behaviors that are supported by the culture we live in and by whatever culture we were raised in. We are called not to approach every disagreement with our guard up and a deep desire to win, defeating our opponent at any cost. Instead we can enter into all conversations (including disagreements) with the idea that we just might learn something new, and maybe even have our mind changed, from our worthy discussion partner. When we make this peaceful approach, we also allow ourselves to remember that the person facing us is a whole person, with fears, hopes, and anxieties. We remind ourselves that this person just might be communicating out of those fears and anxieties. Instead of responding with fears and anxieties of our own (leading to heated arguments, hurt feelings, resentments, and grudges), we are sympathetic and compassionate to this person, especially if we see they are hurting. We do not view this person as an enemy.
                Henri Nouwen reminds us that when we hold tight to complaints and resentments, we block God from entering our hearts and setting us free. Hang onto negative emotions, as so often happens in society today, and we trade faith, hope, and charity with fear, doubt, and rivalry. That’s certainly no way to live together.
                To communicate well and build solid community, we can make sure that we are clear, that we are not intending to create a winner/loser situation in our conversation, and that we avoid blaming and accusing. We take personal responsibility for our own actions and leave the past in the past, never dredging up past mistakes or hurts. Even better, we spend more time listening to the other person than speaking. Listening well involves setting aside our personal feelings, positions, and preconceived notions so we can clearly hear what the other person says. Effective listening avoids assuming, accusing, and sabotaging the conversation.
                Great aids to effective communication and community building include regularly complimenting people for the positive things they say and do. Doing that well means overlooking faults and weaknesses in other people, since we all have them.
                We all get swept up in the ways of the world from time to time. We all have bad days and sometimes we communicate violently, whether intending to or not. However, as Rev. Dr. Harold Trulear reminded us, God uses a DVD, not a Polaroid, to record our lives and the lives of our beloved community, the whole thing, not just some moment in time when we stumble or grumble. We can always repent, turn around and do things differently, following a better and more loving way. Communicating with love is one of those ways.
Enjoy the summer and may we all bless others every day by communicating with love.

~Rev. J.B. Snyder

Walking Prayer to be Resumed This Fall, 2017

The pastor will be holding two walking prayers after the church service on Sundays September 17 and October 22 at 2 in the afternoon. This spiritual discipline will take place at the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge (roughly 15 minutes away from the church in Tinicum, Pennsylvania: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, 8601 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19153, 215-365-3118 office). Anyone interested can meet in the church parking lot at 1:30 p.m. to car pool over to the refuge together. 

The walking prayer is an old spiritual discipline in which you slowly walk through the natural landscape and open all of your senses to creation. It is a way to move closer to God, walking with God and reveling in God's handiwork. This is one of my favorite disciplines. I have to warn you though. Practice the walking prayer a few times and you may find yourself much more observant of nature, of the play of light and form across the landscape, than you have ever been before. That is what has happened to me, and I am grateful to God for that. Join us.

We hope on our walk to catch various migratory birds in their travels through our area, which will be an added blessing to the walks. 

Alternate days will be chosen if the weather will not cooperate on the planned dates. The paths through the park are largely level and the main paths have a number of benches regularly located for those who need to pause and rest.

LBC Participating in National Night Out 2017

Lansdowne Baptist Church will be represented again at the Lansdowne, PA, National Night Out on Tuesday evening, August 1, 2017. Come and meet us, get to know who we are, and let us get to know you too. For any congregants interested in participating, the pastor and his wife will be setting up at 5 p.m. in the Highland Avenue parking lot. If you want to join us representing the church, please bring a chair and water. We will have a portable shelter as we have in the past. We'll bring information, invitations, some coloring pages to give away, and a good, old fashioned American Baptist Christian welcome! This year, the police department will be providing a "Critter Connection," allowing the community to meet Officer McGowan and his K-9 partner Chapek. There will be a K-9 demonstration at 7 p.m. As always there will be a community cookout and The Taste of Lansdowne. It is a good time and a great opportunity to meeting more of our community and share our joy in Jesus.
Whenever we gather together as a congregation as ambassadors for Jesus,
we have a good time.

LBC Marched Again on July 4, 2017

Some of us assembled
Parade assembles ...
We had a wonderful morning at the parade in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, on July 4th. We gathered at the church parking lot at 8 a.m., gathered at our starting point at 8:30 a.m., and were on the move at 9:00 a.m. We paraded with a bunch of our neighbors and for many more neighbors. Members of our church handed out nearly 200 invitations to come and worship with us. We blew giant bubbles again this years (always a crowd pleaser). We met a great many of the members of our community, had more congregants march than in previous years, and had a wonderful day. God blessed us in many ways.
On the move ...

Our veterans represented
Classic bus for veterans to parade in
Yep, still making the giant bubbles while we march!
To see photos from previous parades LBC has been involved in, see:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Son of Man and Son of Krypton

Sermon based on John 1:1-13 during my Summer Blockbuster Sermon Series dealing with comic superheroes and various aspects of the Christian faith. In this sermon, we check out key characteristics of Superman and how we can use them to speak clearly and engagingly about Jesus. Take a look and see for yourself.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Behold the Lilies

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 not to worry and why: 

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Go and Learn

Sermon based on Matthew 9:9-13, asks us all to follow Jesus' instruction to go and learn. Will we be sticklers for rules in ways that ruin the game Mousetrap? Or are there alternatives?