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    From the Pastor

    Rev. Scott Crane

    Priorities, Core Values & BeliefsÖ.

    Julie and I attended a five-day spiritual academy on Celtic Spirituality a few weeks ago. We learned a bit about historical events of this strand of Christianity as well as the theology. The people of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, among other places, saw God in every aspect of life from the beginning of their morning to the setting of the sun. They were not highly educated or trained but found ways to see Godís blessing in the rhythms of the day and in the wonderful creation that surrounded them.

    Since they didnít come under the influence of the Greco-Roman culture, they didnít end up dividing things into either/or and good/bad. They saw all things as ways to learn, to grow and to praise God. Godís hand and blessings were in all things, even milking the cows and, thus, they tended to have a wonderful sense of hope and faith in Godís ordained rhythms of life.

    During our week of study, we started and ended each day with worship. We celebrated communion each afternoon. We had times of silence and reflection. We had times of sharing our thoughts and reflections with one another. It was a wonderful time away to reflect about whatís most important in our lives.

    But, then, we come back into the ďrealĒ world with headlines of violence and hate. People go back and forth as to who and what is the problem. Many seem to think that the world is about getting oneís way, like getting their fast food just the way they want it. Everyone wants a quick fix. They want others who donít agree with them to change their ways. And very few are willing to sit and listen as to the deeper cries of people who think differently, who often feel they donít belong.

    As an ordained pastor for twenty-five years, I have seen a lot of behavior, bad and good. And, like most, I have my opinion on what the problems are with a lot of our society. But, I realize that my opinion, as right as I believe it to be, is not going to change the behavior of others. Indeed no one, including myself, just goes out and decides how to behave and then makes instantaneous changes. Oneís behavior comes from a lifetime process of learning, not just informational knowledge but also the knowledge of interacting with others for a common good.

    Behavior is a part of our development or formation process. How we behave and conduct ourselves comes from what we believe. What we believe comes from what we learn, life experiences and interactions with others. And, amidst all the formal and informal things we take in, our priorities, core beliefs and values take shape, whether consciously or sub-consciously.

    Simply put, our beliefs and our behavior are shifting throughout our lifetime. And as we grow and mature, they change. As we learn new and more information, we can then adapt accordingly. Hopefully, we are all learning and improving, continuing to mature in our beliefs and behavior as we get older.

    Perhaps, the great problem in our society today is that we have so focused on information Ė which exists in large quantities at the tip of our fingers Ė to the detriment of formation. Gathering information is great in the consumer world when you are gathering facts about a purchase or a product. But when you are studying or researching people, things get a bit more complex.

    Formation comes in the midst of our interactions, with family, at school, in the workplace, at church or regular gatherings at the coffee shop. Do we choose our interactions to affirm our own beliefs because we are insecure? Or do we choose interactions that challenge us and stretch our thinking in new ways? I would assert that a little of both affirmation and challenge are necessary.

    So, donít get stuck where you are, assuming it is the ďothersĒ who need to grow. Healthy priorities and values donít just happen. You have to work for them throughout life. And if you donít have a place where you can be affirmed and challenged in healthy ways, attend church regularly. Weíre not here to simply save you from hell. We exist to help each other become better individuals. Being a Christ follower should help individuals in this formation process of priorities, core values and beliefs.

    Grace & Peace,
    Pastor Scott