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May 25, 2014, 10:00 PM

Growing Pains

A major blessing arrived in our home this week as we adopted a German Shepherd Dog named Banner.  Banner was released from a Seeing Eye dog-training program because he likes to chase cats!  We love Banner, and looking at his medical history I saw that about a year ago Banner was treated for a very painful disorder that some big dogs get when they are growing rapidly.  The Vet was able to prescribe some medications to help him tolerate the growth pains, but the main solution to the growth pain was to wait it out.

It struck me that our church is going through a similar phenomenon.  As we grow at All Saints some of us may experience a bit of pain in the process.  The pain may be small, like the inability to find a parking place, or someone sitting in our favorite pew.  Or it may take the form of something larger, like changes is music style that distract us in our worship and make it difficult to connect to God in the way we normally do.  Whether big or small, thankfully we can do more than just wait it out. I’d like to suggest a few ways we can make the growth pains less painful as All Saints grows and develops into the awesome church God created us to be.

1. Tell me how you feel.  Try to use “I statements”, and specific examples like one person did in a wonderful way recently, saying: “When you play contemporary songs and don’t provide written music for me I feel left out and don’t know how to worship.   It would really help me if I had written notes so I could feel like I can worship God effectively.”  That’s a wonderful way to communicate in a way I can use to help ease the growing pains.  We can solve this type of problem many ways – for example starting different services with different styles, purchasing music so people can follow along, or perhaps communicating better that while we are in transition we are seeking to have a mix such that everyone has a chance to worship in the ways they feel most comfortable at least some of the time.  The way this person brought their opinion is much more effective than projecting one’s opinion on the whole church and saying things like: “We hate it when you don’t provide written music.”  This is less helpful to me because the nameless “We” coalition feels coercive and is hard to gauge.  It could be two people, 10 people, or a group of people that were in the room but did not disagree when the opinion was voiced.  I know the “We” does not include the many people, for example, who came up and voiced the completely opposite opinion and want to do more contemporary music in an unstructured way.  Your opinion matters all by itself!  Come tell me how you feel.  And if others feel the same way encourage them to talk to me, or those on the Vestry as well!  And please have patience as we consider your views and seek to move the church forward, integrating everyone’s preferences and discerning how the Holy Spirit is moving us at All Saints.

2.  Move in the positive!  You won’t have to look far around All Saints (or at its Priest) to find something that is not perfect.  But if you want to have an impact for Jesus you won’t have to look far to find a place where you and your gifts can help.  What are you passionate about?  Jesus probably put that passion there, and if we can tap that passion and direct it in a positive way heaven is the limit for what Jesus can do through us!  If you see something you don’t like, consider how you could move in the positive to move a negative into something awesome for our church family!

3.  Focus on the Mission!  Our mission is nothing less than bringing people to Jesus!  That is the mission of every church, as Jesus commissions us, to “…go and make disciples of all nations” (Mathew 28:19).  Our mission is not self-preservation, not serving ourselves or even each other by creating a comfortable environment, but transforming our world in the name of Jesus!  Awesome worship, great pastoral care and deep relationships are a huge part of that – every single person in our church is important!  But I’m so blessed that the Vestry and Wardens of All Saints are passionate about growth!   I was so energized when they brought me in nearly six months ago not as a chaplain to take care of a church that wanted to stay the same, but rather a leader to drive a church that wants to do the mission of Jesus: healing the sick, bringing good news to the poor, binding up the broken hearted, setting the captives free (Isaiah 61)!  We have a huge opportunity to have an impact on Round Lake, the Malta area, and the capital district in the Name of Jesus!  This will require change, growth, and yes some growing pains.  In fact – it is a good sign.

Apparently the bigger the dog, the bigger the growing pains.  Banner is doing great!  And All Saints has an awesome future serving Jesus and doing our part in transforming our world and ourselves!  Thank God for Growing Pains – that means we are Growing!  Through voicing our feelings, moving in the positive, and focusing on the mission we can mitigate and direct those growing pains to launch us forward.  I’m so blessed to serve as your Priest in this adventure!


“… and His Banner over me is love.”  Song of Solomon 2:4



08-10-2014 at 12:49 PM
Gerry Seymour
Your Article on growing pains was excellent and a Blessing. Your doing a wonderful job. I'm so happy that your are our Priest. I Thank God every Day for answering my prayers and bringing Fr. Scott to All Saints Church. God Bless
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March 31, 2014, 7:32 PM

Why Easter?

Why Easter?

My Father was a choir director, band director, and trumpet player while I grew up and one of my best memories of Easter is of him playing trumpet in the First Presbyterian Church of Newton NJ as the amazing baritone Joe Mello sang from Handel’s Messiah – “The Trumpet Shall Sound, and the Dead shall be Raised!”

It’s an amazing piece, beautiful music, astounding lyrics, but I’m sure I hadn’t realized the full impact of it.  I think as Christians we don’t many times realize the full impact of this promise – that the dead shall be raised, incorruptible!  That we shall be changed!  That we will become immortal – live forever!

Many times we don’t live like we understand this promise.   We go to funerals and the message is “Hector led a good life (for the most part) and who knows, maybe he’s up there pushing around the clouds,… ah, em… could happen I suppose….”    All this when we have this promise of a Fanfare – built upon the manifestation of a Victory!   The empty tomb on Easter morning points towards a glorious finale when God will put things to rights – no more crying, no more pain – he will be our God, we will be His people.    Even more wonderful is that we’ve been commissioned to enter into the process for bringing this about through transforming our world into the New Creation in the name of Jesus!

N. T. Wright wrote a wonderful book called “Surprised by Hope” where he takes the church to task for not embracing the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, the promise this victory provides of our own resurrection, and the challenge it gives us to enter into the transformation of our world to bring about heaven on earth now!   If you are looking for a great book to celebrate and understand Easter I highly recommend it. 

Or perhaps we might listen to, contemplate and pray Handel’s piece:  Only 30 words of lyrics in 8 minutes of song, as if Handel knew he had to speak slowly so we could understand:

“The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.   For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 

Why Easter? 

Because of Easter the Trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible! 

Because of Easter we shall be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye! 

Because of Easter the corruptible becomes incorruptible, and the mortal immortal! 

That’s what I want to hear at my funeral – and yes, I will be listening!  Unless of course He comes back first!  Either way – make sure you bring your trumpet (or better yet – your trombone! )

Happy Easter!



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March 1, 2014, 8:59 AM

Why Lent?

When I was a kid Easter was all about the Chocolate!  At some point we somehow agreed with our parents that it was in the Easter Bunny’s interest for my brother Erik and I to be able to pick out our Chocolate Bunnies ahead of time, to maximize the joy of Easter morning.  As the years went by we moved from picking the awesome hollow molded Easter-Bunny-in-Race-Car with hard chalky candy eyes to the full up, solid, dark chocolate version.  The ears were always the first to go, and one would do well to guard their take against poachers.  Easter candy was serious business!

If Easter was about the chocolate, Lent was about the lack there of.  We weren’t serious fasters in my family, but the connotation I picked up about Lent was that it was about giving something up.  I wasn’t sure why, but if it in some way affected the take on Easter morning I was in.

Love of chocolate runs deep in my family.  My grandparents always brought M&M’s with them whenever they visited.  Once, when visiting us in New Jersey, having traveled from Florida, Nanny and Poppy had the audacity to show up at our house without M&M’s.  They were sent away by a 4-year-old boy named Scott who met them at the front door:

“Poppy, you got M’s?” 

“Why no, we forgot the M’s.” 

“Well you better go back and get some M’s?”

Off they went, returning 20 minutes later with the proper offering for their pilgrimage.

Stephanie and I have brought this love of chocolate to our children, although Mom the Pediatrician held it back for the first year.  On Easter Sunday when Sam was 20 months old he had his first taste of chocolate – a piece of Dark chocolate Dove bar – the best we could find.  I still remember the look on Sam’s face when he tasted the glorious substance – it was a joy and wonder: “Wow this is awesome!” combined with some incredulity:  “You guys knew about this!  You’ve been holding out on me!”  He couldn’t get enough.

Sam’s reaction to his first piece of chocolate was similar to my own reaction to experiencing the Power of the Holy Spirit for the first time when I was in college.   I was filled with a beautiful goodness, an awesome love, something beyond anything I’d experienced before.  I was left both amazed and incredulous – some of these people knew about this!  They have been holding out on me!

In realty perhaps it wasn’t that they were holding out, but in part that I was not ready – I did not have room to be filled with that amazing goodness.

That is what I think of as the purpose of Lent.  We begin 40 days of preparation on Ash Wednesday to make room for more of the awesomeness of God.  We have the opportunity to fast, pray, sacrifice, and focus on Jesus to create more room in our lives for his presence – to hear Him better, to break down walls that may separate us from His love; to repent of sin that block us from going deeper in our relationship with Him and to attempt to understand in a small way the sufferings he endured on our behalf.  

This trajectory will lead us through the pain of Holy week, to the triumph of Easter, and beyond to the amazing filling with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost!  It’s better than chocolate!  Let it not be said of us that we were holding out.

May we keep a Holy Lent!

In Christ!


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