postcards from sabbatical – week 14

postcards from sabbatical – week 14

Dear Faith Friends, I knew when I got back to Indiana I would keep walking through this sabbatical.  I imagined I would hike the parks of our city, county, and state. Instead, I have felt led to walk very close to home.  I am called to the streets of the neighborhood that we have chosen to focus on for Faith’s community engagement.  We plan on working closely with Binford Redevelopment and Growth (BRAG), so we settled on their boundaries for our attention. (Sargent Road on the east, 82nd Street on the north, Dean Road on the west and 56th Street and Fall Creek Road on the south.) In keeping with Faith’s “get out of the parking lot” mentality and the call of Jesus to be out on the road like the good Samaritan, and feeling pumped by the miles I got under my feet in Greece and Colorado,  I put on my courage and started walking the streets of our community looking for blessing. The area begins just three blocks from my home.  The challenges begin quickly.  The sidewalks disappear almost immediately.  This is one of the major concerns that surfaces from community leaders.  It makes walking scary and dangerous.  Not good for school children, the elderly, people trying to get healthy, bicyclists, or anyone not able to commute in a car. I have a choice, though.  And I choose to keep walking.  I want to see and know where our neighbors live and work. I’m not sure how this trek will resolve.  I know it won’t end when the sabbatical is over.  That’s just fine, though.  I always knew that...
postcards from sabbatical – week 13

postcards from sabbatical – week 13

Dear Faith Friends, This past week has felt quite indulgent.  I had a chance, during the sabbatical, to think about what I enjoy doing and would like to spend more time at. I came up with baking. So much of ministry has a non-tangible outcome.  Baking is a chance to be creative, have a product and feed someone! Problem is…just when I have time to bake, I don’t have a congregation to feed.  So, I got creative about that, too. I baked for people in the neighborhood (finally paying them back for their “welcome pies”.)  I baked for people moving into a new home.  I baked for my mother’s nursing staff.  Next up, I’m baking for Faith staff. I’m not a very good baker.  Any success I have in cooking or baking isn’t from skill or technique.  My only talent is that I am good at reading recipes and recommendations.  If you start with the right directions, it’s bound to turn out well. Thanks be to God, that’s true of our lives as Christians, as well as cooks. Blessings for the journey, Charlotte Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.  Saving is all God’s idea and Christ’s work….It’s God’s gift from start to finish.  – Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2....
postcards from sabbatical – week 12

postcards from sabbatical – week 12

Dear Faith Friends, I am back in Indianapolis for four weeks, before I am back at Faith.  It is filled with a unique kind of anticipation. This week, writing the first draft of our Community Ministry Grant proposal. For several years, Faith has diligently explored and talked with community leaders about the resources and needs they see, to discern how our congregation is to connect with the community.  Just about the time that we were gaining clarity on a vision of our calling and wondering about how to proceed, Center for Congregations announced a matching grant program for congregations ready to explore mutual ministry with their community.  It sounded like a perfect match for us. We’ve learned a lot from the year-long process with Center for Congregations, as well as experiencing some frustration as we have been a bit a head of the curve in planning.  Still, the support and experience they offer, plus the possibility of shared funding has made the extra process worthwhile. To be honest, writing the grant wasn’t that hard.  We’ve have done a lot of hard work already.  Or maybe we have let the Spirit of Jesus Christ do a lot of hard work among us. I come back to Indy with renewed energy and excitement about what we are called to do with and for our neighbors. Blessings for the journey, Charlotte It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.  Long before we first hear of Christ and got our hopes us, he had his eyes on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of...
August 27 Sermon by Rev. Dr. Galen Schwarz

August 27 Sermon by Rev. Dr. Galen Schwarz

What a Gift,   Ephesians 4:1-16 It is a bit difficult for me to put into words the struggle that I had this past week with this particular passage of Paul, for some of it seems to fly right in the face of all that we know about the theology of Paul.  Sure there are common themes here that we have heard before, and there is the introduction of a new element of  the graciousness of God when it comes to our faith, but to use the word “Worthy” and say that Paul hopes that we lead a life that is “Worthy” of the call to which you have been called, seems to take us down the road of throwing off the balance between work and faith. In one sense to say that we should be worthy of the calling to which we have been given seems to imply that if we work hard enough and we practice the characteristics of humility, gentlenesss, patience, forebearance and love then these behaviors will make us worthy of God’s love and God’s calling.  And that if we do not show those characteristics then we are not worthy of God’s calling.  For someone who believes that God calls all people to faithfulness, obedience and witness, this is a very difficult statement. But then perhaps I was over pondering this particular predicament.  Perhaps it was being taken out of context and I was thinking about it as if it were a single statement, not connected to the words that follow.  So let’s start by working backwards, and looking at the people in our lives who...
August 20, 2017 Sermon by Rev. Dr. Galen Schwarz

August 20, 2017 Sermon by Rev. Dr. Galen Schwarz

The Ingroup  –  Ephesians 2:11-22 A couple of years ago I had to make one of those dreaded calls to our medical insurance provider to find out if a certain medical procedure was covered.  I don’t know about you, but I always have some resistance to those kinds of calls.  They always start out with the warning that says that they may be tape recording the call for training purposes.  That alerts me because I know that they are really trying to tape what the caller is saying.   So I start right away to think about exactly what I am going to say and how I am going to say it, to make sure that it is as friendly as possible, but still communicates what I really want to know. But this time the “friendly warming message” ended and the customer service agent answered and identified herself, rather than moving into questions that would identify who I was,  the first things she said was, “I see you are from Indianapolis”, reading the caller ID, “How about those Colts. I think Andrew Luck is so cute!” Talk about knocking you off balance! We shared a few pleasantries about our hometown team and then she mentioned how much she admired our entire organization, and how difficult it was to be a Colts fans since the answering office of my insurance company was in Pittsburgh.  And we know what team plays there. By the time the conversation was over I had discovered what I needed to know and had a nice chat with a stranger who had become somewhat of a friend. ...
postcards from sabbatical – week 11

postcards from sabbatical – week 11

Dear Faith Friends, Trail Ridge Road runs straight through Rocky Mountain National Park.  It gets you high and it gets you high quickly.  Before you even reach the Continental Divide a sign tells you that you are two miles above sea level.  You haven’t gotten out of the car and you are already out of breath. Trail Ridge Road will take you even higher.  You can walk straight out of your car onto Alpine Tundra.  They say that driving the three hours from the high plains of Colorado to the top of Trail Ridge Road is like driving from Mexico to the Arctic Circle.  The tundra is a desert, where – despite large snow falls – only small amounts of moisture seep into the ground.  Plants and animals have evolved and adapted to the treacherous temperatures and wind speeds.  It has made flora and fauna creative, hardy and fragile.  A plant may bloom only once a decade.  Animals have about two months to gather food or get off the mountain. The air is thin.  I must hike slowly.  I must take my time.  I must be prepared with water, nourishment and adequate safety measures. I must watch ever step over boulders and stones, across tender plants. I am rewarded.  With astounding views.  With animals who are as curious about me as I am of them.  With delicate plants in bloom.  With bright sunshine. With enormous billowing clouds.  With occasional friendly human companions.  With the presence of God.  With time in God’s time. This is truly a thin place for me. My soul is being restored in places I did not...