Pastors Message – June, 2017

Pastors Message

Dear Friends,

We have reached a point in our Interim period in which we are called to envision the future of this church. We have touched on it before, but now we really have to settle in to the task. We do it not just because it is required by the Presbytery, but because we need to do it for ourselves. Actually this process of envisioning the future should be done by a church every five years. Even when no change of pastor is involved change is inevitable and unavoidable. If the church hopes to stay relevant, and engaged with the world, as it is called to be, it must be awake to the world’s needs and its own calling and potential.

Lately I have been pondering the word imagination and have come to see how valuable it is, more important even than reality. I think that Albert Einstein was correct in his observation that “reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one“, and that “imagination is everything“. It is the preview for life’s coming attractions.”

Why is imagination so essential? For one thing imagination ignites passion. For individuals as well as for churches there is a connection between passion and purpose. I first realized this when my passion for poetry led to my years of leading poetry programs. Passion and purpose superseded survival and responsibility. And isn’t it possible to be both passionate and responsible?

And it is essential because imagination and thoughts create our future. I quote from a piece in the Huffington Post, “When we stay immersed in what is directly in front of us at all times (i.e. our current reality), we continually create the same challenges, problems, and experiences over and over again. But, when we venture into our imagination to focus on the reality that we want to experience, the energy is set in motion and magnificent change can occur.”

And imagination stimulates creativity and innovation. Some of the most influential and innovative creations have come from the simple act of imagining something more beneficial, more accessible, more expansive, and more lovely. Someone had to be able to imagine street lights, the automobile, vaccines, and reaching to the stars. The list is endless.

And imagining can be magical. Just watch a child at play. I am reminded of the poem by Billy Collings, On Turning Ten. “At four I was an Arabian wizard. I could make myself invisible by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.” How amazing would our world be if we all experienced that same joy and wonder on a day-to-day basis?

And finally, sometimes “the world is too much with us;” to quote Wordsworth, another poet. Again from the Huffington article, “By falling into the trap of ‘what is’ and believing that this is just the way the world works, we become a victim and relinquish our true creative power. Our imagination and thoughts create our future. It’s long been said that ‘thoughts become things’ and our imaginative muscle is the very thing that helps make that possible. When we stay immersed in what is directly in front of us at all times (i.e. our current reality), we continually create the same challenges, problems, and experiences over and over again. But, when we venture into our imagination to focus on the reality that we want to experience, the energy is set in motion and magnificent change can occur. Choosing to use our imaginative muscle as a means of creation provides hope. And where there is hope there is ultimately an opportunity for transformation and change.”

I invite us all to activate and exercise our imaginations, to dare to dream. What good things might the future hold for First Presbyterian Church Big Flats and how can we make them a reality? What do we want to create in the life of the church and in our own lives? The possibilities are endless. We have the power to create so much more and it is up to us to use our imaginations to do so, and indeed we have our Creator God cheering us on.

Share your imaginings in person, by phone, note or email. Do not keep them to yourselves. And let us be united by our hope and dreams for the future, that they become a new reality.

Pastor Beth

Serf-Walls, Lamisha,( life coach), Five Reasons Imagination is More Important Than Reality, Huffington Post Blog, 11/4/2014

Pastors Message – May, 2017

Rev. Beth Frigard

Rev. Beth Frigard


On Friday mornings I attend a study group at Mt. Saviour Monastery. Usually we pour over Holy Scripture, but the last few weeks we have been reading the most recent book by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner. You may remember him as the author of the best seller, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” This new release is titled “Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life.”

One chapter I found particularly compelling and I want to share a bit of it with you. As we know, church attendance throughout the world has been declining and Christianity is not the only religion affected by this phenomenon. And how many times have we heard people say that they are not religious in the conventional sense, but that they are spiritual. Perhaps we have even said it ourselves. Well, Rabbi Kushner admits to having been at a loss regarding how to respond to these individuals. That was until a colleague, Rabbi David Wolpe, of Los Angeles, shared with him his response, which is, “No, spirituality is what you feel, theology is what you believe, religion is what you do.” Rabbi Kushner goes on to say, “the most sublime religious faith becomes real only when it is translated into behavior, into doing things you might not otherwise do as an enactment of your religious faith.” He then quotes the famed theologian Martin Buber who, when asked, “Where can I find God?” replied, “God is not found in churches or synagogues. God is not found in holy books. God is not found in the heart of the most fervent believer. God is found between people.” Rabbi Kushner then adds, “when you act toward someone as your religion tells you to, God comes and bridges the gap between you. You are joined for those moments by bonds of holiness.” He continues by quoting Rev. Lillian Daniel, a UCC minister who in her book, “When ‘Spiritual, but Not Religious’ Is Not Enough” writes, “people who invoke simplistic reasons for rejecting traditional religion, but find God in spring flowers and changing leaves will have no problem as long as it’s sunny out, but they have no framework for making sense of a hurricane, or a business reversal or a diagnosis of serious illness. At times like that, you need a tradition to turn to that has seen it all and has no illusions about the world. You need a community, people who have learned to find God in the shadows as readily as in the sunshine, to find Him in the courage of afflicted people and the helpfulness of their neighbors. And you need people whose faith compels them not to pity you or to question God on your behalf, but to hold you and dry your tears.”

I do hope that this sampling of Rabbi Kushner’s book will spark both reflection and conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts. This may be a book you will find worthy of a discussion group.

In the meantime, I encourage you to spend time out of doors enjoying the warmth of the sunshine, the greening grass, flowering trees, and the gardens ready to burst forth with colorful and fragrant blooms, and then come to church where your friends are waiting for you.

Pastor Beth

Kushner, Harold A. “Religion Is What You Do, Not What You Believe.” Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life. New York: Anchor, 2015. 103-117. Print