Pastor's Comments

Pastors Comments

Since we moved to Chestnut, our three grandchildren have visited each summer. This year they were here eight days, yes eight days, and it was a full circle of events from dawn to dusk. They like the beach at Yorktown, minus being stung by jellyfish. This year’s visit had a historical theme with jaunts to The Lost Colony, Jamestown and Williamsburg. Church members could not help but notice activity in the front yard with wickets and croquet mallets. This summer featured a “slip-n-slide.” For the curious, ever since the infamous “Chappy-Slide” on the softball field two seasons ago, my slides have slowed down. Elaine however, never one to shy away from a challenge, joined the crew sliding across the front yard. In my mind, I heard the chorus of Paul Simon’s song, “Slip-Slidin’ Away.” A tradition of sorts has evolved, as on the last day of their visit, Emma assembles the photographs taken of their week, placing them into a photo album.

With sunlight of summer days beginning to lessen, activities and events of the church season are soon to arise in full swing. However, it has not been an inactive summer. Vacation Bible School discovered biblical super-heroes, our youth spent a week on their annual SPY mission trip, our Volunteers In Mission team returned to West Virginia for another assignment, and the Chestnut Nuts softball team took it all the way, winning the summer co-ed league softball tournament. From my kitchen window on a Saturday morning, I notice scouts in the parking lot pledging allegiance to the flag and reciting the scout oath. The faithful are trimming and cutting the grass, pulling weeds; kudos to an ambitious bunch who braved heat and ticks, clearing brush on the west side of the parking lot. Due to their hard work, one can now see the reservoir beyond the fence. Also, a few of our United Methodist Women leaders travelled to the Eastern Shore for a mission excursion on In recent months, I have received input behalf of the ministry of Una Familia. Who says nothing happens at church during summer months?

An important church council meeting was held in July, with prior meetings of careful discussion and recommendations being made in response to a bequest from our late friend and faithful church member Mr. Calvin Ryder. Subsequently, in the near future, you will notice the fruits of these decisions and gifts toward congregational life with new robes for the choir, an electronic sign and state of the art projectors in the sanctuary. I cannot help but think, Calvin would give us “a wink and a nod” along with an “Elmo” chuckle and smile of approval for the betterment of our Chestnut community.

With fall around the corner, The Mystery Dinner Theatre players are well into rehearsals, with two performances and curtain calls scheduled for September 15-16. The Committee on Nominations and Leadership Development is well into the process of nominating members for leadership positions and committee assignments. The finance committee is making plans for our annual stewardship endeavor as we prepare assembling the church budget for next year. Our wonderful Wednesday events will resume on September 20. Once again Linda White and her crew will be cooking it up in the kitchen, as our children begin rehearsals for their fall program. Bible study returns as we look into the book of Acts with weekly sessions on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-7:30 and Thursday mornings from 11:00 – Noon.

In recent months, I have received input from staff and church members toward creating an informational brochure about Chestnut. It is being designed for visitors who might be entering our space for the first time. The intent is to convey, whose we are as God’s people at Chestnut, and what sets us apart from churches within our vicinity. Think for a moment about who comes inside our doors. There are many first time visitors as we receive relatives attending weddings, baptisms, and funerals of a loved one. Music lovers
who attend concerts ranging from Bach to bluegrass, a yearly talent show, a children’s musical or a district event with United Methodist congregants from other churches. Scouts arrive with their parents to pick up either cookies or popcorn. Of course, there are the parents and grandparents of the pre-school children, who enter the sanctuary and our educational wing for either an orientation or a Christmas program.

And of course, we welcome the faithful who only attend services during the high holy days of Christmas and Easter. Within the church humor department, these kind folks are sometimes known as CEO’s (Christmas, Easter, Only). We bid welcome to relocated members of our armed forces, seeking support and friendship for themselves and Christian education for their children. Most importantly, we reach out in love to the quiet and devoted who enter the sanctuary seeking hope, kind souls struggling from hardships in life; the death of a loved one, divorce, severe illness or abandonment. Mindful of the many who come into our community for whatever reason, I think a few words from our mission statement relays our purpose and identity rather succinctly. At Chestnut, we are “Rooted in Faith, Reaching out in Love.”

With what has been a busy spring and summer, and before new church activities begin, I am hoping I will have made my annual pilgrimage and time away for a week of silence, prayer, reading and contemplativeness. The scriptures remind us, Jesus was quite intentional withdrawing from the crowds and the disciples. Life within a monastic community is structured by the hour of the day. Each day beings very early, with time kept for worship, meals, work and above all else, prayer. Quite opposite Chestnut, in fact worlds apart, there is not much socializing or activity to engage in. And certainly, conversations and electronic distractions are discouraged. Therefore, within the quiet, the Holy Spirit has a way of entering ones soul, being revealed in subtle moments of grace and simplicity.

This remains a very sacred time of spiritual renewal, allowing me to rekindle my friendship with God. During my retreat, we walk a lot with each other, listening to cows, watching sunsets, while trying to spot deer in the field. One day, knowing I will be slip slidin’ away, the quiet graves adjacent the river; have a sobering way of centering me. I have often considered this as being the final resting place for my scattered remains, yet still to be decided. In the meantime, as recently suggested in a book titled A Dog’s Purpose, our furry friends, these messengers of God, encourage us to live and enjoy each moment before us. This should an  intentional part of our life at Chestnut. Amidst all the events and activities, take a moment to be still and rekindled within in the spirit of God.