A Word from Our Pastor 2015 August

A Word from Our Pastor
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God” – Matthew 5:9

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” – Matthew 5:9, “The Message” version.
We have much to celebrate at BMU, for the completion of our first “Peace Camp” on July 13-17; there were eleven campers and 5 teenage counselors, many of whom do not attend our church. Lynnie Hiratzka directed the Camp, assisted by Minister Chai, Lindsay and Peggy Hiratzka, Jean Hart and Lucy Angaaelangi; other church members participated in leading some aspects the program: Rev. Mike Yamauchi, Mike Williams, Lee Marrs, Jackie Takahashi and Doug Izuno. We were also supported by several other leaders who provided yoga and movement activities.
There are several things to be thankful for: for the generous hearts that worked so hard to pay for, plan, prepare and put on the program; for the great spirit of the counselors to inspire and help the campers; for the willingness of the campers to try something new, and participate so fully. . . and last, but NOT least, for all who prayed for this ministry.
Also, this was an important outreach effort our church; we are slowly beginning to expand beyond taking care of ourselves and our members to serving the community. By looking beyond our own needs, and reaching out to people “on the outside,” we are fulfilling the ministry that Jesus called us to.
Specifically, we have taken a step in our vision of, “Changing lives, transforming communities, and renewing the church.” I am certain, after having observed and talked to the campers and counselors that all were changed in significant ways. I invite you to listen to their stories for the “Summer Camp” Report-Back Sunday in August, when they will make a presentation during worship time.
This ministry has two related aspects: helping young people to learn peaceful solutions to life’s challenges and the deepening of faith. Not all of the young people who attended belong to a specific faith tradition, and there was diversity among those who identify themselves as Christians. For me, it is not important that we get everyone to agree or conform about how they connect to God and to one another. I believe that everyone associated with the camp is on a path to God, and I trust that God will lead them in the way that will bring them life.
“Peace” has been a challenge throughout Christian history. Some of the earliest records of the Christian church describe how much people struggled with each other to believe and act in the same way. In the book of Romans (chapter 14), Paul takes on controversies: what should followers of Jesus eat (some thought it was ok to eat meat that had been sacrificed to other gods, while others thought that this was a sin); and what sacred holidays followers of Jesus should observe. Paul counsels the church members not to judge one another, and to accept that whatever the opinion, each person must act in accordance with their own mind/conscience (14:5, 10), because when someone acts in faith, they give thanks to God.
This is a core value of peace: to not pass judgment on one another (14:13) and when appropriate, keep our different opinions between ourselves and God (14:22).
“13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. . .
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. “
Paul was writing in this chapter about controversies within the Christian community. However, I believe the same rules apply to people of (any) faith. If we are to have peace, to be peacemakers, the first steps are non-judgmental acceptance and commitment to supporting the spiritual path that others choose to follow. Of course, we see in the world today that not all deeply held belief systems lead to peace (ISIS, neo-Nazis. . .) But if we truly “rooted” in God, and understand and experience the ways that make for peace, we will be able to recognize and celebrate with others who are on the same path, the path that leads to eternal life and God. . .
Vaya con Dios!
Rev. Naomi