Monday, June 11, 2018

The Times, They Are a-Changin'

The opening verse of Bob Dylan’s 1964 song is as relevant today as it was then:

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

The fact is, Bob wasn’t saying anything original. The times are always a-changin’. It was the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said “The only thing that is constant is change.” And even before that, the writer of Ecclesiastes said, "There’s a season for everything and a time for every matter under the heavens.”

However we say it or think about it, surely it’s true that we are almost always experiencing some kind of change, whether big or small, in some area of our life. Theresa, JJ and I have experienced all of the following in the last year: a new job for Theresa, a new school for JJ, the purchase of a house, and the change of pastors at church. That’s a lot. But in some ways it just sort of seems like the new normal, and I’m sure that everyone reading this could share a similar list.

For many of us at Broomfield UMC, that last item on my list - the change of pastors - is a big one. In this time of transition as we eagerly await our new Lead Pastor Don Bird, I’ve gotten the chance to talk with many of you about this change, and I’ve learned that we are all processing it in many ways. In these conversations, I’ve heard expressions of sadness and fear as well as excitement and hope for the future. All of these feelings and emotions are valid and understandable. Fortunately for us, there are so many examples in scripture of God leading his people through changes, and we can look to these stories to be reminded of God’s faithfulness. From the story of Abram being called to a foreign land, to Mary being called to be the mother of Jesus, to Jesus calling his first disciples to change their lives and follow him, the Bible gives us a look at how God calls us into new seasons and situations, as well as how God promises to be with us during these changes and transitions.

Something I’ve noticed as I read these stories is that when God calls us to something new, he always starts with a simple invitation. While we would probably prefer more details, what we get is, “Come, follow me.” We want the 5 point plan, we want the graphs and charts showing how things will end up, but God rarely, if ever, gives that. Some say that God speaks in sentences, not paragraphs; I like to think of it as God asking us to just put one foot in front of the other. It’s a lot like following a hiking trail through the woods - we can never see the whole trail laid out all at once, but when we follow and stay on it, we end up in the right place.

This is how the transitions and changes at Broomfield UMC have been unfolding, for sure. We got an announcement in February about Ken leaving, another announcement in April about Don’s arrival, and now we’re in a time of waiting and preparation. It’s just one foot in front of the other as we trust God’s new calling on our church family. So what do we do in order to stay close to God in times like these?

We thank and trust God. Transitions are a sign that God is at work in us. God is not distant, causing us to be born and then checking out and watching from above. God is active in your life and my life and when we sense things changing it’s often because, like the first disciples, God is calling us to join him in something new. That is a reason to rejoice because it means we are part of God’s plans to love and redeem the whole world.

We listen, talk, and lean on each other. Transitions are difficult, no doubt. But knowing that we’re not alone in them and leaning on each other makes them easier. Right now, there are a whole lot of people in our Broomfield UMC family who are eager to talk about the changes our church is experiencing. When we do this in constructive ways within our church community, the burdens and anxieties of not knowing what is coming next are spread out among all of us in a way that lightens our individual loads and dispels the what-if's that fill our heads. This is true about any transition you may be experiencing - there is always someone who has been through it before, or is going through it now.

We have hope. Pastor Thomas reminded us a couple of weeks ago that hope means “confident expectation.” We should all have a confident expectation that God is with us and has extraordinary plans for his church in Broomfield. This is evident in every transition story in the Bible. One of my personal favorite examples is from the book of Joshua. In this story, Moses, Israel’s leader, had just died and God commissioned Joshua to take the Israelites over the Jordan to the Promised Land. God spoke these words to Joshua, "No one will be able to stand up against you during your lifetime. I will be with you in the same way I was with Moses. I won’t desert you or leave you.” (Joshua 1:5, CEB).

The times, they are a-changin’. And now, as always, God is with us, thanks be to God.

One other small transition I want to let you know about concerns this blog. Broomfield UMC is about to get shiny new website, and when that happens, the blog will transition from its current home on to our site. This means that your email subscription will change. In the meantime, we are pausing new posts so we can work on migrating the old ones to the new blog. We will send out a few posts with instructions on how to sign up for blog emails once the new site is in place. Thanks for reading!

Joe Mazza is the Director of Worship Arts at Broomfield UMC and leads worship at our 8:30 and 9:45 worship services. He and his wife Theresa and son JJ can always be found making music around the church as a part of the Worship Arts family. Joe also plays guitar with local Colorado artists and if you friend him on Facebook, you can find out where he's playing and catch a show.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mother's Day

Post by: Cathy Stafford

This past Sunday, May 13, was Mother’s Day! I want to wish a wonderful day to all women reading this who nurture children. I believe that Mothers, Stepmothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, and Friends all have such an important part to play in raising children in the way God intends. We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to do so.

I want to share a proud Mom moment I had recently. This past Easter Sunday, my 9 year-old son gave the Gospel reading during one of the services at Broomfield UMC. He did a terrific job, as did the other young people who read during the other services. After the reading, my son came and sat down next to me in the front row, one of those reserved for service participants. The rest of our family was sitting in a row further back. Probably getting over some nervousness from reading, he wanted to draw pictures instead of listening intently to Pastor Ken. I drew with him, because I could tell he wanted me to, and I also listened to Pastor Ken. Moms know how to multi-task, am I right?

As you know if you attended Broomfield UMC on Easter Sunday, Pastor Ken told the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, one of the youngest children who marched in the Children’s Crusades of 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. She was the youngest child who was jailed during that event. Pastor Ken also discussed Audrey Faye Hendricks in the BUMC blog dated May 6, 2018. I did not know the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks before the sermon on Easter Sunday. I did not know the story about the Children’s Crusades either.

During this Easter Sunday sermon, a story about a nine year-old child being jailed for seven days is being told. I am sitting next to my nine year-old child. My mindset is pretty much one of shock and disbelief. I am thinking about this child who went to jail, and about my own child sitting next to me who is the same age. One thing that is going through my mind is what her parents must have felt like when their child was in jail and they were not allowed to contact her. I am not catching everything Pastor Ken is talking about due to my flood of emotions. I just can’t believe this child was put in jail. I want to know more about what happened.

Shortly after Easter, I think when everyone else was asleep in my house, I researched the Children’s Crusade and Audrey Faye Hendricks’ story. I found out that her parents were very active in their church and the Civil Rights Movement. Audrey knew about the injustices in her town. She was aware of bombings that occurred in her hometown. She went to planning meetings with her parents for many years. She knew that other young people, mostly teens in her community, were going to march and would likely have to go to jail. She told her parents that she wanted to participate in the march, knowing that she would almost certainly go to jail too.

Audrey’s parents let her participate in the march, and even bought her a game to take with her, in case she had to stay in jail. Some people may agree with their decision, and some people may not. I believe it is not my place to agree or disagree. During my research, I felt empathy and sympathy for Audrey Faye Hendricks’ parents, not judgment. I don’t feel entitled to even start to know their circumstances, or their child, or the other people involved in their lives. I just stand in awe of their bravery in how they supported their child. I feel relieved that their family made it through this ordeal.

I imagine Audrey’s parents could rely on the teens who were part of the march along with their daughter. I hope the teens who also participated were as trustworthy, responsible and kind as those who volunteer and work for Broomfield UMC. I imagine they were. I know I would be saying things to the teens prior to the march like, “Natalie, please check on him every 10 minutes, and ask two of your friends to do so as well in case you are pulled away.” History shows that Audrey Faye Hendricks’ and her family’s sacrifices were not in vain, and were very influential in bringing about change.

Among many other things, Audrey Faye Hendricks’ story reminds me that the greatest gifts we can give to parents are acceptance, support, and as much understanding as possible. Jesus is clear that we are not to judge. Parenting is a hard job. I hope Audrey’s parents had lots of support from family and friends in their community. On this week of Mother’s Day, let’s all find a way to support a Mom (or Stepmother, or Grandmother, or Aunt, or Friend) who is nurturing children.

Cathy Stafford is a church member, friend, daughter, sister, wife, and mother of two elementary-age children. She works as a Program Coordinator with the Family Ministries Team at BUMC, which serves children ages birth to 5th grade and their families.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Simplifying Faith

Post by: Kristan Marsden

I am on a mission to simplify my life. I’ve always been someone who appreciates tidiness, order and routines. But somewhere along the line, I’ve begun to feel trapped by a packed calendar, excessive “stuff” and a perceived to-do list I could never hope to complete. I’ve been intentionally applying the concept of simplicity to several areas of my life. It began with paring down my family’s schedule, focusing on the things that enrich our lives and learning to say no to the rest. Now I’ve moved on to all the “stuff.” I’ve been purging cabinets, closets and toy bins. The idea behind simplicity is removing the excess to focus on the things that truly spark joy. As I watch all the “stuff” leave my house, my calendar and my consciousness, I find myself wondering: Can the idea of simplicity be applied to faith?

It’s a tough time to navigate as a Christian. So many important social, political and scientific issues surround us everyday and it feels impossible to respond in a Christ-like way to all of them. How would Jesus carry himself in the world we live in? I had a WWJD bracelet back in middle school just like everyone else did, but now I’d really like to know! Seriously, what would Jesus do about all this crazy stuff going on in the world? Countries don’t agree, communities don’t agree, friends and families don’t agree. Christians certainly don’t agree.

Maybe this is where simplicity comes in. Maybe the key to finding common ground as a church, a community, even a country is to strip away the distractions and keep our eyes focused on the most basic Christian principles. Second Corinthians 11:3 puts it this way, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your mind will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

I attend a bible study with an amazing group of women. They happen to all be Catholic, except for me. We seek to understand each other and many of our conversations have been around different practices and traditions within our respective churches. At first, I thought this was a strength of our group. We were educating each other and accepting different points of view. I’ll admit, however, that I was growing a little tired of being the “odd man out.” It started to feel like we spent most of our time discussing the differences in our faith.

One woman in my bible study is an ER physician at a children’s hospital. At a recent meeting she told us that she has never lost a child in her care, but that fear is something that haunts her constantly. She told us that when she arrives at work, she sits for a minute in her car and prays. She asks God to guide her hands, to help her use her knowledge to treat her patients effectively. She asks God to work through her.

Shortly after this conversation, I found myself sitting in my own car praying. I recently became a CASA volunteer and had my first court date. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of children involved in child abuse and neglect cases. Part of the role is attending court hearings and making recommendations to the judge based on the information I’ve gathered. Heading to my first court hearing, I was nervous. I was afraid I would not be able to articulate what I needed to say to effectively advocate for the child. So, I sat in my car at the courthouse and prayed. I asked God to give me the words to help this little girl, to work through me to better her situation.

Embracing one of the simplest Christian beliefs is where we found our common ground. At the core of our faith, we both seek a personal relationship with Jesus and, without hesitating, turn to God when the tasks we must do feel too big for us alone. Strip away all the traditions, the denomination-specific teachings and there you have it: Christ lives and works within us. Simple.

I’ve heard the bible described as so deep a theologian could drown in it, yet shallow enough that a child could wade through it. This is so true! As I continue my quest to remove the distractions from my life and focus on what is truly important to me, I will continue to study the bible and its complexities. But I will also focus on its simplicity. 

Kristan spends her days living and learning with her two young daughters, Shay and Grace. In her downtime, you’ll find her running (preferably with friends), skiing, struggling through the occasional yoga class and escaping to the mountains every chance she gets. As a teacher taking time off to raise her own kids, she enjoys volunteering in the Children’s Ministry as well as writing about her experiences as a parent and educator. She and her husband, Britton, have been members of BUMC since 2011.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Reason for All Seasons

Post by: Frank Oligmuller

I was recently looking out the window and taking in what was a very pleasant Spring day. And, from further pondering, I thought of how quickly the recent Winter had passed with Summer, I am sure, peeking around the corner. Subsequently, the next Fall will be following right behind.

As Christians, we also embed the Advent and Lent periods as additional seasons during the year. Christmas day and Easter as seen as the end of those seasons respectively. The phrase “He is the reason for the season” is commonly used during those time frames, especially Christmas. I so often try to convince myself to carry the spirit of those additional seasons into the days, weeks, and months following. But, for a variety of reasons, going back to the routine days of the standard seasons then take over and I soon find myself being overcome with the trappings of this world.

In curiosity, I perused the New Testament and saw a couple references to a time of the year. In John 10:22-23 it states, “Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.” I don’t know why it was mentioned here other than to give some context on time of the year for this event and the events that followed leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. And then in Luke 1:26-27 it states “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. To a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” Here a month of the year is called out. Again, not sure why other than the thought of a time of the year for the event that then keyed in on events that led up to the birth of Jesus.

Maybe because of those two references, it leads us to establish the proximity for celebrating these two events. However, and though those celebrations are of great significance, I don’t believe God limits us to carry retain those celebrations during the one time of year – but throughout the year. It is those events for which we can take into the world the good news of great joy and eternal life as seen in Matthew 28:19-20.. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”

So, as I turn to my work and/or play at hand for the day, I hope to keep whatever character of Christ at the forefront to keep my day in peace. It is so easy to go about the day owning our actions and feeling self-sufficient particularly when we think things are going well. But, by the end of most days, when exhausted by the meetings, calls, social interactions, and tasks involved with my day, I can find comfort - as long as I allow myself to face Him – knowing I have God who will take it all away and leave me with joy and peace. As John 16:22 says “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

In reflection, God made all things including All Seasons of the year. And, we are too use the Advent and Lent times as reminders of the reasons He sent His Son. Giving us gifts through Jesus birth and leaving us the Counselor/Spirit to enable us to be alive in Christ carry the message all year long. Thereby making Jesus Christ the reason for All Seasons.

May you find Hope, Love, Joy and Peace throughout the Year

I grew up in the states of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. After finishing my Computer Science degree at University California - Irvine, I eventually moved back to Colorado with my wife. Over the past 32 years, I have worked in both the aerospace and commercial industries with my degree getting many opportunities to grow in my professional life. However, there always seemed a gap in the growth of my spiritual life. That gap has began to fill measurably since my attendance and involvement at BUMC for which I praise God to have brought us at a key time of our lives. Outside major interests include playing hockey, but time and the physical ability has been an increasing challenging, planning a yearly 14er climb and trips to Disney - most favorably - Walt Disney World. However, I love spending anytime and anywhere with my wife, family and friends. All the while - inviting Christ with me.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Why Not ‘Commonplace’ Acts of Kindness?

Post by: Sara Godwin

I’ve been pondering, for a while now, the phrase, “random acts of kindness”. For a lot of reasons this phrase bugs the heck out of me. What does it even mean? That kindness isn’t normal? That it isn’t something that one sees every day? Is kindness something that must be sought out, ever the elusive act that only some practice? Or if everyone practices it, they only do it sometimes? It’s the word ‘random’ that I really have a problem with. Is kindness truly that uncommon? The very definition of random, according to is “a person or place that is odd or unpredictable; without uniformity; unknown, unidentified or suspiciously out of place”. Hmmmm.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you know that our society is troubled. We see, almost every day, in our news, headlines, and social media all of the acts of rage, anger, hate, sickness, and sadness that has pervaded humankind. Children are committing suicide, we are taunting and bullying each other, some enter places of learning, worship, or commerce and inflict pain, terror, or even death upon others. We sit back after hearing about these acts and scratch our heads. We wonder why these things are happening. We ask for prayers, we rant on social media, we hug our loved ones close, but nothing every really changes. I think that perhaps, collectively, we just hope that it won’t happen to us. But it is. I don’t think any of us hasn’t been affected directly by at least one of these types of acts. They’re too common.

I’m not gonna lie; I have absolutely no idea what to do about all of this. I have no answers. I only know what I can do, as an educator and a parent and a human being in my own tiny, little sphere of breathing space on this planet. I can model and perform commonplace acts of kindness. I can smile at the cashier as I pay for my groceries, I can tip my waiter or waitress and voice my appreciation for their efforts, I can use my blinker and wait my turn to merge on the highway, I can hold the door for someone, I can thank others, no matter how small their act was, or, in other words, I can “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Luke 6:31 It’s right there; all of it, that one tiny verse, so commonly known to everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike.

I recently taught my students the Easter story. We started with Palm Sunday and progressed all the way to the ascension. One of the best lessons in that story happens in the middle, during the Last Supper and how Jesus washes the feet of his disciples to show his love for them. After I told my students that part of the story we filled buckets with water and washed each other’s feet. As we washed each other’s feet, we said kind things to each other. The kids said things like, “I like your hair”. Or, “you’re fun to play with”. Or, “you’re good at coloring”. Things that 5 year olds think are important. Yet, aren’t these things important to all of us? We all just want to know that we’re doing a good job, or that our efforts are noticed and appreciated. My students talked about this activity for days and continued to say kind things to each other, long after we were done. I hope that as they grow, they’ll think back on this activity and remember how it felt to give and receive kindness.

I’m not going to pretend that I have any answers to the ills that are affecting our society, but I can hope that my acts, my smile, my words, might have a ripple effect. Maybe if I smile at my cashier, they’ll smile at their next customer, who will then hold the door on their way out for someone, who will then go on to say thank you or I’m sorry to someone else, who will then go on to perform another act of kindness with another soul. I can model the very foundation of Jesus’ teachings to us and do unto others. It doesn’t answer everything, but it’s definitely a start. If we get enough ripples going, constantly, commonly, always moving outwards, maybe some things will change. Join me, won’t you?

Sara Godwin has been a member of BUMC since 2003. She is the Assistant Director and Teacher at Apple Tree Christian Preschool and Kindergarten where she has worked since 2007. She has two wonderful children, Rachel and Ian, a loving husband, Shawn, two awesome kitties, Lewis and Lucy, and a sweet dog, Minnie. She began at BUMC working in the Children’s Ministry, assisting with Sunday School before moving to the preschool. She also helps with Wacky Wednesday and is the self-described crazy lady who wears all sorts of costumes every year at VBS.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Remember Dreamers

Post by: Ken Brown

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Most of us have a response to hearing his name or seeing it in the media. The remembrances of his assassination (April 4, 1968) were global. When I hear or see his name, I’m left without adequate words to describe his impact on my life. 

Like Dr. King, I too am a career pastor. His ability to live with resolve and conviction in the face of violence is astonishing. Even more amazing is Dr. King’s organization of the Children’s Crusades that aroused the nation’s conscience in 1963. These events were monumental chapters during the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Armed with non-violent, peaceable tactics, thousands of young children were arrested in a march for their lives and the betterment of America. One of the youngest marchers in the Children’s Crusades was Audrey Faye Hendricks. She skipped school and went to a church that organized the peaceful march. “I wasn’t nervous or scared,” Audrey recounts. She chose to stand up to a system of racial violence. Audrey was nine. She spent seven days in jail and her parents were not allowed to contact her. 

Audrey’s story is the Easter story - walking out of tombs has a price. Every last one of us is a beneficiary of young Audrey’s courage. She made a choice to confront violence. The ripple for hope from her Birmingham jail cell continues a revolution to help us embrace one another on the content of character. 

After reading Audrey’s story, I felt embarrassed at my lack of knowledge of the Children’s Crusade of 1963. I thought, how many other people don’t know? It pierced my spirit and made me ache for those unheard. 

America’s children are standing up to our stagnation regarding gun violence. The church needs to follow their lead. 

As a church, we are grappling with the recurring questions about gun violence. Why? How? What’s to be done? 

What will you do to curb gun violence? What has Jesus whispered to your heart to speak when the stories of those like Audrey are told. Speak up. Find your words. Find your voice. Let’s be the type of church that remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination was not in vain. 

Ken Brown is the senior pastor at BUMC. You can contact him at

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Costly Grace

Post by: Mwangi Ndonga

By far (arm lengths, miles, light years), my favorite book on the Christian life is The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I have an old copy that a former pastor lent to me. On the cover it says “A powerful attack on ‘easy Christianity’”. Is your Christian life easy?

I’m not asking if you becoming a Christian was easy.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8

I’m asking about life ex post facto.

Bonhoeffer distinguishes cheap grace from costly grace in his first chapter:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

He goes on to say that, “It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” I don’t think that Bonhoeffer is saying that we “owe” Jesus for his sacrifice nor that we all have to enroll in seminary tomorrow. But we must recognize the cost at which our privilege was purchased.

A long time ago, I used to think: “So what’s the big deal about Jesus giving his life up? Firemen run into fires to save lives – giving up their lives for others at times. What’s so special about Jesus?”

Paul clarified this for me in Romans 5:6 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Would you step in and serve the sentence of a criminal? Would you lay your life so that a death row inmate is not executed? Would you sacrifice your child to bear the sin burden of the entire world and suffer? I wouldn’t. But Christ did. But God did.

And that is radical. And that is free. And that is costly.

Because of costly grace, Christianity isn’t a spectator sport.

“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“to be crucified with me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“To the death we follow thee.”

Mwangi Ndonga currently lives in Broomfield with his wife, Talesha, and son, Kamundia. They have been members of BUMC since 2010. Mwangi primarily serves on the Worship and Arts Ministry by playing piano and bass guitar during the Contemporary Services. He works as an environmental, health and safety professional in the oil and gas industry. An avid reader, Mwangi loves discussion on almost any topic, especially music and theology.