The Importance of Connecting

We live in a very independent world, often not even knowing our neighbor’s names or what they do for a living. Or, for that matter, knowing the names of the people we worship next to on Sundays. Turns out, that is really doing some harm to us physically. Who knew??
There’s been some discovery of the importance of connecting. It turns out that a simple handshake, eye contact, or hug releases a chemical called oxytocin that wards off depression, reduces anxiety, helps heal wounds and reduce pain, wards off excess weight and increases generosity and sympathy for others. Sounds almost too good to be true from a simple act of connecting. So I think we should experiment at big life. Let’s shake some hands, look at people in the eye (not in a creepy way!), and offer hug appropriate hugs and see what happens.
-Michelle Jenks
Connections Minister

“Somebody Should Do Something About That”

“Every time we think, ‘somebody ought to do something about that’ chances are, that somebody is you.”
I hated that quote when I first heard it 20 years ago because it means I cannot merely suggest what I think someone else needs to do. It means I must take personal responsibility for my faith, my family, my community, and my church. It is easy to make suggestions. It is difficult to engage. But I am sure each of us have had a “someone need to do something” moment recently.
It might have been at home. Family is often a series of “ought tos” and “shoulds,” and we sure think we know what everyone else’s family is doing wrong. Why not start with your own contribution to your family? Maybe something as simple as a more streamlined morning routine to learning how to pray together as a family would bless your family. If something should be done in your family that will bring you closer together, why not do it?
It’s almost always true in your faith. Many of us are hungry for God in new and fresh ways. Nothing is preventing us from opening the Bible to read and explore, opening our heart to pray in new ways, and opening our eyes to see where God wants to us to share his Word and his heart around us. You are supped to grow closer to God, so why are you waiting for someone ELSE to do it for you? Never let fear-filled phrases like “I don’t know where where to start” keep you from taking the first step. Asking God to grow you is a prayer He will always answer.
We live in a unique community here in Oswego. There is both wealth and poverty. There are first generation immigrants and children who are so privileged all they have in life is money – and nothing much more. If you see a need in our community and are waiting for something to be done by someone else, you might be waiting for years. Why not ask God what it is he wants you to do, and then find the faith to follow through.
One of the things I love about God is the gift of imagination he has given each of us. When we begin to pray and imagine (often the same thing) how life, family and faith could be different and better we are breaking through with an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to invade our lives. And once God gets ahold of a willing human heart, heaven is the limit!
What is it you thought someone else needed to do this week?
That someone is you!
-Pastor Geoff

Don’t Worry!

I used to think I was alone in my fight against worrying. But I’m not. I hear it from everyone: worry about kids, jobs, people’s opinions, body weight, weaknesses, parents, lack of control. The list goes on and on. It isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, the phrase “do not worry” is mentioned in the Bible 365 times. That’s one for every day of the year. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
My favorite mention of it is in Philippians, a short book that was originally a letter a man named Paul wrote from prison to a church in Philippi. He wrote, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Sounds like an offensive pat answer “don’t worry, just pray about it.” But the key, I think, is the last phrase: thank him for all he has done. Worry tends to move us to think about all the “what ifs” and terrible possibilities. Thankfulness grounds us in the good that is actual. And there is an amazing change in our thinking when we move from the fears of what isn’t real to the gratitude for what is.
Connections Minister