Newsletter - Chips Off The Rock - March 2023

My first month as Rock Run Church of the Brethren’s settled pastor has been a busy one. Missy and I were happy to be able to officially become members of this faith family when we transferred our memberships to Rock Run on February 5th, which is also when Torin Eikler from the Northern Indiana District of the Church of the Brethren installed me as pastor at Rock Run.  

I appreciated the workshop that Gary Martin led for Rock Run on February 18th. (See Tane Adams’ review of the workshop elsewhere in this newsletter.) What does this congregation expect of its pastor? What do I need to do to meet those expectations? Does this congregation want its pastor to lead it toward a vision that the congregation has discerned is where it wants to go? Or does the congregation want the pastor just to keep things going smoothly, trying to make sure we do things the right way and not asking the question if these things are still the right things to do? The questions that Gary Martin raised for us are ones that we will need to continue to address as we move forward in this relationship between pastor and congregation. I hope we can work at understanding these questions in ways that make my time as pastoral leader of the congregation a fruitful one. (Thanks to those who gave up a Saturday afternoon to come and participate in the workshop!) 

I am writing this reflection on Ash Wednesday, the day that signals the beginning of the season of Lent in the Christian church year. Lent is a time of reflection and confession as we prepare to again celebrate Easter, which we will do on April 9th this year.  

Our theme for our Lenten worship services at Rock Run this year is “Open Our Eyes, Lord.” Each week’s theme word begins with “c”: Consciousness, Courage, Character, Calling, Confession, Compassion, and Celebration (for Easter Sunday). Deb Leer has created a wonderful visual reflecting these different themes that you will see as you enter the sanctuary during Lent.  

How have our eyes been closed to issues that concern God? What can we do to become more aware of such issues – and how do we respond when our eyes are opened and we feel that God is calling us to change our attitudes or behaviors?  

The worship resources for Lent were written by Rosanna McFadden, pastor of Creekside Church of the Brethren and a former moderator of the Rock Run congregation. Rosanna writes, “The culture of 21st-century America is different than that of 1st-century Palestine, but Jesus’ answer to the question of our own blindness and what we assume we ‘see’ is still relevant. If our singular sightline is from a perspective of privilege, we may be missing the message of good news that Jesus had for the marginalized.”  

This process of reflection and confession can be challenging as Jesus opens our eyes to ways we may need to change to faithfully follow him. But I trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us as we look at ways we may have been blinded to our own presumptions and prejudices and see things in new ways as we see them with the
eyes of Jesus.  

Pastor John


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