Guest Column by Chuck Blaisdell
First Christian Church folks, you should give yourselves a hearty "Thank you!" for the gift you have given yourselves! What gift, you say? The fact that you are wise enough to make sure that your Pastor is given study leave. You see, study leave for the pastor is one of the things that distinguishes thriving and lively churches - it's not some sort disguised vacation for the pastor but a gift to the church. In the same way that you wouldn't want your doctor or dentist to never take continuing education leave - unless you like, say, going to a dentist that uses a vintage foot-powered drill on your teeth! - in the same way you shouldn't want your pastor not to take such leave so that she can study, pray, read uninterrupted by the day-to-day things, and plan sermons for the next months that will teach and touch you. So please understand during her study leave if your non-emergency emails, texts, or Facebook messages aren't responded to; they will be later. And, what's more: let me suggest that you take Barbara's study leave as a time that you set aside some special time yourselves to pray for your pastor and your church's ministry. I'm humbled that Barbara has asked me to preach this Sunday. "Which King?" is the title of my sermon and we'll begin by talking about why you and I should never forget the date of February 23 and conclude by asking each of us to honestly ask how we do - or don't - truly allow the words and commands of Christ the King take precedence over the precepts and pronouncements all around us that play instead to our fears and even our bigotries about "the other." From Ben Dear Church community, I want to write this week and express my gratitude to all of you for your support as I continue to bring a diverse selection of music into our worship services. This Sunday we have a beautiful selection of hymns and songs that come from across cultures and touch many different generations. We will be enjoying the celebration of diversity with our Prelude of "It Ain't Easy Being Green" with Sam and Plum providing the music for this. We are also singing "One Spirit of Love," a reggae-inspired praise song that we have woven into our post-Pentecost Sunday worship. As we learn in the sermon of the ancient church this week we are visiting the ancient Latin round "Dona Nobis Pacem." The 19th century "To Us All, to Every Nation" will ask us to reflect on the sermon and you are all welcome to sing with the choir on the 2nd and 3rd verses. We are closing with the Latin American hymn "Loving Only You, O Christ" followed by a special instrumental Postlude. I look forward to worshiping with you and thank you all from my heart for your support and love as we together seek to support and love our diverse community here at FCC and in our community and the greater world.