may 31, 2023

The holiday of Memorial Day was observed on May 29 this year.  From 1868 until 1970, this holiday was observed on May 30.  Since 1970 this national holiday has been observed on the last Monday in May.  It was first known as Decoration Day.

Memorial Day is a special day to honor the military men and women who have served our country, especially those who have given their lives for our nation.  It is a day to honor their sacrifice and courage to safeguard our freedom as a nation.   This is an important day for pausing and giving thanks for their service.  It is also a day also to pray for peace, as Dr. John Records did when he served at the table as an elder at Coolwater.  There is a saying that applies here in more than one way, “We remember, lest we forget.”

What is observed on Memorial Day differs from congregation to congregation.  Several factors play a roll in those differences.  What is done on Memorial Day may depend on the accepted practice of the whole denomination involved.  In other denominations or churches different traditions exist depending on the customs of each individual church.  Sometimes the traditions are influenced by what part of the country the church is in.  Another factor can even be brought into a congregation by members who and the traditions they had observed in other churches.

The first congregation I served after seminary was First Christian Church of North Kansas City, Missouri. At that church Memorial Day was a time to observe the church members who had passed on since the last Memorial Day.   Many other churches observe a similar custom but on the Sunday prior to November 1, which is All Saint’s Day.  

“We remember, lest we forget.” There is a lot in those words to ponder.  The New Testament book of Hebrews devotes a sizeable portion of verses to lift up one interpretation of this idea.  The book of Hebrews features a great roll call of faith to remind the church of the sacrifice and courage, faith and strength, sacrifice and perseverance of our ancestors in faith.  The author concludes by declaring that these are now a great cloud of witnesses that support each successive generation of Christian people.  They point us to Christ. 

A cloud of witnesses surrounds us.  Remember their lives, teachings, love, and devotion.  Remember how you have been shaped by them.  Remember how they played a part in helping you develop into the person of faith that you have become.  It is important to pause and remember, give thanks, and then press on towards the prize of the upward call of faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. 



Pastor Rick

may 24, 2023


Pentecost has long been an important day for the whole church.  In the early days of the church, Pentecost was celebrated as the most important day after only Holy Week and Easter.  Christmas was not even an official day for the church yet.  However, you won’t find Happy Pentecost cards at a grocery store, Walgreen’s or Hallmark.  Don’t get your hopes up for dove shaped York Peppermint patties or flame-shaped Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.   There isn’t a secular second in the whole day!

Pentecost is considered by many to be the birthday of the church.  Pentecost is the day the Holy Spirit descended on the followers of Christ gathered in Jerusalem.  The Holy Spirit is the gift Jesus promised that would give the church the ability and the power to share the good news, even unto the ends of the earth.

Through the Holy Spirit the presence of Christ is with us always.

Pentecost is a festive day of joyful celebration.  The color of Pentecost is red.  Red symbolizes the tongues of fire that descended upon the gathered followers of Jesus, according to Acts 2.

So, on this Sunday wear red, if possible, wherever you are.  Be ready to celebrate the everlasting gift that has strengthened and guided the church since the beginning, and continues to empower us in our times today.   While Pentecost is a day for the church, it is a gift for the whole world.


Pastor Rick


May 17, 2023

Acts 1 tells us that these 40 days since Easter have been a cherished time in the presence of the Risen Lord for the early followers of Jesus.  Jesus has continued teaching them and leading them.


One day he takes them out to a hill.  Jesus teaches them yet again, and then he gives them a job to do - to be witnesses even to the ends of the earth.  The mission is to take the news of salvation and the blessings of God’s gracious reign out to the world. Having said this, Jesus is lifted up into heaven before their very eyes.


The disciples are standing beside Jesus one moment and the next moment they watch him floating away.  As they stand there gazing into the heavens, it begins to dawn on them that Jesus is really gone!  Suddenly they are a group without their Lord and their leader.  And they begin to wonder, "What do we do now?"


Acts 1 also tells us that two angels suddenly appear before the disciples.  “Why do you stand there looking into heaven?” one angel says.  There is a word, especially today, that the church needs to hear, and the people of the church need to hear.  The angels send the disciples back from the hill and into that very real, sometimes very painful and terrible world, but they send the followers of Jesus with a promise.  The angels tell the disciples that they will not be left alone to fend for themselves.  They are promised the presence of the Holy Spirit to be with them as they face the world.   The disciples are sent back into the world with the promise that they will receive power.  And this Christ who gives power is the One who goes to rule with God, and the One who will ultimately judge the world.  We are in his hands.


The church is the answer Christ gives the world.  Jesus has sent the church, you and me, from that hilltop of struggle and doubt, out into the world because deep inside you know the story of a love for you so great that it endures a cross to redeem you, deep inside you know that the death and pain and tragedy of this world is not the final answer, for God’s answer is resurrection and hope. 


When the world falls apart, when things come loose, chaos threatens, it is good to know that while Christ has gone up but has not gone away from the church.  The church, and you and I, are not orphans in the world, helplessly and hopelessly adrift.  The disciples need that reassurance, just like we do, especially in these times.  The angels tell them they are to trust the promise that God will provide.  We are to trust that promise too.  We are in his hands.  


Pastor Rick

ma7 10, 2023

Reflection 2023-05-10

Yes, we are already in the month of May. May is a packed month full of significant days for a variety of reasons.  Next Sunday, May 14, is the second Sunday of the month.  The second Sunday of the May is…Mother’s Day!  This is a day for remembering and giving thanks for special women and families who have shaped us in some way.  The Men’s Group will be cooking up some Coolwater Café treats for this special day.

May brings the end of school for students in most of Arizona. (HOORAY!)  It is uncertain whether students or teachers are more excited for the last day of school. With the ending of school comes the time of graduation, which are special for the graduates and their families.

At the end of May is Memorial Day.  This is a day to honor those who have served our country and also those who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, have given “the last full measure of their devotion.”

Similar words can be said about Christian people through the centuries who have served Christ with great faithfulness and devotion.  Because of people such as these you and I came to know Jesus and are part of the church today.  People such as these have made a difference in the world around them as they have loved and served as Jesus has asked his followers to do.  

The last Sunday of May is also Pentecost Sunday.  On that day 50 days after Easter Sunday, the first followers of Jesus were changed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. By the power of God’s Spirit, they went out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth to witness to the love, life, and hope of Jesus Christ.  On Pentecost Sunday we remember the significance of that day for the church.  On Pentecost we recognize the power of the Spirit moving in us, among us, and through us today, shaping us to be witnesses to the life-giving grace and love of Christ. 

These are some ways we mark the passage of time.  Remembering special days.  Milestones along the way.  Significant occurrences.  Every month has similar special days and moments.  

How do we mark the passage of time as Christians?  Routines, structure, and purpose in our daily lives help us make something of our days.  What do we do as Christians helps give structure to our day.  Here are some of those routines and ways of marking time: giving of ourselves in some way, caring for others, time in prayer, Bible reading, book studies,  Christian service, presence in worship. I think that because Christians mark time with purpose, we are ready to once again know, experience, and live the good news of Christ that makes such a profound difference in our lives. 



Pastor Rick

may 3, 2023

I will be out of town this coming Sunday, May 7.  I will be in the Kansas City, Missouri area at an event at the first church I served after graduating from seminary.  I served as the Associate Minister at First Christian Church of North Kansas City, Missouri for five years.  Those were five great years at a wonderful, uplifting congregation where I learned many things about being a pastor and had an abundance of opportunities to grow as a minister.

Rev. Katie Sexton will be at Coolwater on May 7.  I am delighted that she will be back to lead worship again.  There are similarities in the experiences that Katie and I will have this weekend.  We both return to congregations we served as pastors.  We will both be reunited with people we served alongside for a number of years.  We will both have the opportunity to see familiar faces and be with people we loved and cared for as pastors.  

There is a special tie you share with people in a congregation.

There is a special bond between a pastor and the members of a congregation.  For Katie and for me this is more than returning to a place of employment for a visit to see people we worked with during that time.  It is more than just returning to a town or neighborhood to see old friends or family.  These are people we have a Christian bond with.  They are people we worshipped with and grew with in Christian faith.

These are people we worked with as we served Christ together.  These are Christian people with whom we laughed, cried, sang, prayed, praised, studied, and learned.  These are people we shared Christian life with for years.  Those years were an important part of our Christian journey together and as individual members of the Body of Christ.  For me personally, those years and experiences both then at North Kansas City, and now at Coolwater, are treasured more than words can express.

What is next for Coolwater?  Coolwater is having a meeting about the future direction of our congregation on Tuesday, May 7.  The time is from 6 – 8 pm with dinner included.  You do not have to bring anything but you!  Our Regional Minister, Jay Hartley will be leading us in a process to consider the possibilities for Coolwater now that our building and property are for sale.  If you need a ride, please contact the church office or someone you know in the congregation.  Someone will be glad to get you to this meeting!  Your attendance at this meeting is requested and is very important for all the people of Coolwater Christian Church as we serve our Risen Lord together.

Blessings to All!