A community church in North Andover, Massachusetts

Posts by Rev. Jeff Snyder

Summer Adventures: Abolishing Loneliness

Loneliness is like lightning. It can strike in any place, at any time. Loneliness can impact all of us, not just some unlucky few. Loneliness played a major role in our period of isolation during the pandemic crisis. So, here in June … and July and August … and all the warm months for that matter … it is time to strike back. It’s time to counter loneliness with positive action of our own.

Winter Is Over

We have celebrated Jesus’ resurrection and the new life that comes through Jesus and all he accomplished on the cross and through the tomb. We celebrated with flowers, sure signs of Spring, and Easter eggs, reminders of new life. Now we really get to enjoy the new life that comes with warmer weather.

Easter 2022

I am the resurrection and the lifeJohn 11:25

Dear Friends,

This is our first Easter together. How exciting that is! Looking back at John 20: 1 – 29, we have the wonderful story of Jesus appearing first to Mary and then to the disciples. Over the past two years with a raging pandemic, I think we can all appreciate Mary’s feeling of being utterly alone. We can also well understand the disciples locked in a room together for fear of what might come at them from the outside. We have felt locked away and isolated too.

We Journey with Jesus

The Lenten Season Continues and We Journey with Jesus

Here we are, well into the season of Lent, journeying with Jesus toward Jerusalem. His forty days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry, tempted by the Devil, victorious over three classic temptations, gives us the number of days for Lent (not counting Sundays). During Lent, we do things we normally don’t. We pause in our busy lives and look back on who we have been since the last time we took this journey. We reflect on our spiritual lives and practices. We come to understand what we must change, where we need to repent (turning our lives around and changing them to better follow Jesus’ example). We spend more time in prayer and we look toward sacrifices we can make. Lent is also a time to look for the ways we are not choosing the gospel or welcoming those whom Jesus calls us to embrace.

Communication

The ability to communicate, to share the very meaning of life with each other, is the supreme expression of God’s image reflected in us. This is a beautiful observation from religious scholars. Communication, as observed in Genesis 11:1-9, the Tower of Babel story, has also been a challenge for us from almost the very beginning. In Chapter 9, God had told Noah and Noah’s sons — twice — that they were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. God says this in verse 1 and repeats it in verse 7. Two chapters later, humanity decides to ignore this communication from God, to ignore the one job God gave them, and instead settle everyone in Shinar, build an impressive city, and create a tower to heaven to not only ignore God’s clear communication, but to violate God’s boundaries as well. Seeing nothing but trouble coming, God scatters humanity across the globe and creates many languages among us so we could not repeat this feat of human cooperation set to entirely human goals. And so, communication has been a challenge for us ever since.

February

From December on, I tend to think of the winter months as dark months. The December solstice marks the shortest day of the year. I often find myself grateful for many lights in the dark, cold nights, whether it’s from Christmas lights, streetlights, or the gentle glow from windows of family homes. Reflecting on this a bit, I was reminded of Jesus call in Matthew 5:13-20 that we Christ followers, disciples of Jesus, should be lights to the world. We should not worship in private and hide our faith away. Rather, in what we say and do, we should be lights in an often dark and frightening world, providing gentle direction to the source of all light and love found in Jesus.

Moving Forward Together

Sherry and I are gobsmacked when we look back on what 2021 held for us, thanks to God continuing to do new things in our lives. In January 2021 we could not have predicted how different life would be in January 2022. We could not be happier and hope you all feel the same way. Our experiences in moving north without all the details firmly in place reminded me of the psalmist declaration in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God lights the way and we follow; Jesus blazes the path and we go; the Holy Spirit gives us a nudge and we move. It is a sound approach for individuals and for whole church communities. The way is never easy, but it’s never dull either.

Christmas 2021

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people …”Luke 2: 8-10

Dear Friends,

Merry Christmas to all. First times give us pause and make us think … like, writing this letter for the first time. More importantly, the above scripture from Luke lets us witness a really big first thing, the long awaited arrival of humanity’s savior, the Messiah, and the first announcement of Jesus’ arrival as a baby by God’s messengers to a very surprising … and surprised … group of people.

The Night the World Changed

It has been an eventful time since Sherry and I arrived in North Andover in early September. We have celebrated and mourned together, shared our joys and concerns, prepared for both a pastor’s installation service and five baptisms on the first Sunday of Advent to ring out the month of November. Now the Advent season is upon us once again and well underway. Soon we will be focusing on preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and driving ourselves to distraction with every other thing we do during the Christmas season, both religious and secular. Before we get there, let’s pause and take a moment to really consider what happened that night so long ago in Bethlehem.