Family has a lot to do with the traditions of Baptism.  Sure, it is first and foremost an initiation into the church, a body of believers, grounded in God, celebrating faith in Christ, and open to the Spirit.  But how and when Baptism is done has a lot to do with family.

Great Grandpa Dave was raised in a long line of Methodists, going all the way back to England.  Grandpa Steve carried on this tradition in his family.  So, naturally, I was baptized into the United Methodist church, but not until I was old enough to chose for myself.  Why a believer’s baptism?

Great Great Grandma Irene believed in the baptism of the Holy Spirit alone.  She shared her belief with Grandma Debbie, who chose to let her children make up their own minds about baptism when they were old enough to decide.  So I did, in eighth grade when I was in confirmation class at Sunrise United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs. I chose to be initiated into faith.  I wore a beautiful home made teal taffeta dress with puffed sleeves.  Ed Beck and Brenda Lear administered the sacrament and God filled my life in a deep and tangible way.

So, you ask, how do you come to baptize baby Zac?  Family traditions blend one side and another.  Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Poetter are and have been life long Lutherans.  In their tradition, babies are baptized early-as soon as possible.  So, Grandma Janet was baptized as a baby into the Lutheran church and confirmed at the appropriate age.  She and Grandpa Jack continued the tradition and Erik, papa of Zac, was baptized as an infant in a beautiful cotton baptismal gown.

Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Hyatt Hagan were also Methodist.  Naturally, Grandpa Jack was raised a Methodist and is fully supportive of Zac becoming one too.  All these family traditions, these lines of connection to God lead us to a specific moment, method, and means of grace.  Uncle Andy will be here too.  He was baptized (Lutheran, like Erik) into this same line of faith. He is godparent to Zac, along with Uncle Jason and Uncle Nelson.

Today Zacariah Hyatt Hagan will be initiated into the Christian faith, with all these witnesses before him. He will be wearing the gown Erik wore during his baptism, thirty four years ago in the Lutheran church of his family.  Zac will be baptized by Grandpa Steve, a United Methodist pastor in a United Methodist fashion.  All this action will take place in the church and community God has called me to serve, First United Methodist Church of Berthoud.

I’m overflowing with love for God, for Zac, and for our families who weave together the best traditions, faith, and a long line of discipleship.

Holy and Loving God, Thank you for this day in which family brings together Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience.  Bless our little Zachariah and help us to raise him in a Christian home.  Thank you for preserving us like the baptismal gown. We are so blessed to be part of this long line of witnesses.  Bless the community of Berthoud that it may continue to be a place of faith for many generations to come.  Help us to be grounded in God, celebrate Christ and open to the Spirit.  We say yes on Zac’s behalf to you working in his life.  May he grow in wisdom and stature into a great person of faith!  Amen.

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Six weeks old, already?

The last time I wrote we were waiting for our little guy to emerge, amazing to think it was sunny and warm then.  Today as the ground is covered in snow I am listening to his cry and taking this moment to reflect.  Well, these days moments don’t last long between feedings, diaper changes, and putting him back to sleep.  We are happy Zac is growing well.  He was born at 6lbs 11 oz, but he has already grown to 8lbs 5 oz.  He is awake, so I better go try to discern his cries.  I am guessing he wants to eat some more!


“Thanks God, for this precious kiddo. amen”.

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Its a Boy!

Getting ready for a little one has added lots of things to my plate. I have been planning and preparing for the baby’s arrival for months. Before we were ever ready to tell anyone we were expecting our lives started to change. We did things like switch to drinking organic milk and began the routine of taking daily prenatal vitamins. We adjusted in little ways at first, going to the doctor only once every eight weeks or so, and finding new clothes when necessary. When we were sure that all was going well and the little baby was growing, we started to share. First we shared with our family, then we branched out to our friends, and soon everyone at Church and school were in on the big news. When it came time to find out what the gender would be we wanted to know. It really didn’t matter to us if it would be a boy or a girl, we knew we would love this child a lot. Friends have waited to find out until the birth day and we respect this choice, but as you all know, we like to plan ahead, and I can be pretty impatient. So, we went to the ultra sound wondering who we would meet, would it be a boy or a girl. The tech asked, do you want to find out the sex of the baby and we said together, “yes.” It only took a little while before we could tell it was a boy growing inside me. As soon as we knew it was a boy, we knew his name would be Zac. We were so excited to find out who we would be preparing our home to receive. After we found out it was a boy, we stopped at “B” Sweet Cupcakes to let Dana know the filling for our reveal cupcakes would be blue. It was so fun to see the expressions on peoples faces when they found out at church we would be having a boy. It was also great fun to see people sharing what their opinions had been on who they thought was going to be coming into our family. It really wasn’t that long ago that we found out, but everything we have done since that time has been able to include the thought of Zachariah in our plans. There is only one month left until the due date now. We have totally enjoyed the preparations. Erik stained and put together the cradle during his summer break. We were showered with gifts from our friends in Canon City, Rye, and my clergy women friends to help get our nursery ready. We have a crib and changing table all set up. Erik also assembled the stroller and unpacked the car seat, so we can actually leave the hospital when it comes time to bring Zac home. We are looking forward to our future showers with joy and anticipation. We are so blessed and know that Zac will enter into a family of love that reaches way beyond what he will be able to comprehend for quite a while. Usually this blog takes on a church type characteristic, but for the next few months it will be the poetic thoughts on motherhood and what God is doing through this new phase of life. I hope you will enjoy my entries on what is happening in our family life and how God is at work in our little corner of the world. These days our prayers are filled with hope for health and lots of expectation. With one month to go, give or take a little, the new phase of life seems a lot closer than it did before we started telling anyone, or sharing the news, “its a boy.” We are in the last part of the pregnancy, but the first part of a window into a new life. So during this important transition time, here is my prayer…

God of wonder and grace, We wait expectantly for our little Zac to emerge. Please help us to do the right things to prepare. Guide us as we enter this phase of parenthood. Thank you for the blessing of new life. We see you in every aspect of our growing family. For all those who are disrupted by strife and challenge, bless them with your peace. For those who have hardship, let them know your presence. As our lives are disrupted by this joy, teach us patience. Help us be fully present to Zac and his needs. Thank you for the wisdom and blessings you have shared through your people. We are grateful for the gift of our son and Yours. Amen.

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Getting ready for Vacation Bible School

Next week we will host a bunch of kids in our “Everywhere Fun Fair.”  The adventure begins Monday morning with assembly and music, and it will all be great.  We need to be inviting as many kids as we can.  So far, only 8 are registered.  I am sure it will change and by next week we may have more kids than we have supplies for, but we may only have twelve too.  You never know what to expect.  What we can expect is for God to show through the crafts and the games, the smiles of the willing servants and the children.  We can expect great things.  Already we have seen God working in supplies!

We asked for some things from other churches and we got more than we asked for.  Decorations and shirts, videos and name tags.  We are so blessed to be part of a connectional system.  The United Methodist Church sure knows how to unite on things like Vacation Bible School.  We know how to share our resources and grow the faith of kids in our own communities and when we have stretched our resources as far as we thought they would go, we reach further by sharing the extras with other churches.

One of the best examples of this gift is the “No More Malaria” gift we received from Calhan and Rush.  These are two smaller churches of our conference, but they were willing to share what they had to offer.  They had enough bracelets for whomever shows up, we will be able to continue to spread the news about our neighbors in Africa who live with and die from Malaria so often.  All this because of our neighbors in Colorado.  God’s connections are some of the best resources we have to continue to minister to those right in front of us.

So, please pray with me for the servants, the children, and that God will find new ways to show off this week.

God of brightly colored shirts and fun songs, teach us again.  Lead us through this busy week with scripture, music, friendship and faith.  Sustain us with snacks and smiles.  We embrace the love you have taught us, help us share that same love with our neighbors.  Extend our boundaries and surprise us with your joy.  We pray for your Spirit to be felt in our church and our community this week.  Let us be faithful disciples of Christ as we experience life together for two and a half hours each day.  We praise you for all you are already at work to prepare, and all you are going to do! 


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God’s Slow Work

What a glorious time to be aware of God’s work in our world.  God is at work around every corner.  It will be so exciting to have our walls filled with the shouts and laughter of children during Vacation Bible School this month. Thank you to all who help make this ministry outreach possible.  God is at work through our hands feeding people in the park on June 11th.  We have the honor and privilege of working with God to “Make a Difference” in our community on June 22nd.  What a joy to serve God through all these amazing ways.

Sometimes we can get bogged down in worries of life.  Where will the money come from?  Is there enough time to get it all done?  Who will help to make things happen?  My challenge this month is to recognize God’s hand in the answer to all of these.  God provides for our every need.  In God’s time all will be accomplished.  God has promised to send laborers into the harvest, as the harvest is plentiful, if we ask the Lord of the Harvest.  So, the answer to our worries truly is God.

The book club read “Tattoos on The Heart: The Boundless Power of Compassion” in May.  It is Gregory Boyle’s book about ministry with “homies” former gang members in the Los Angeles area who were ready for, or at least in process of, seeking a better life.  The book is a wonderful reminder of so many principles God offers us on how to go about life.  Some of the richest lessons from the book are the quotes and reminders about how ministry works.  When the bakery which employed many of the ex-gangbangers burned to the ground—due to electrical fires, I thought of how blessed we are to have our building.  When it took longer than expected for some of the people to turn from a life of crime to the hope found in new life, I was inspired.  The reminder was we can take part in “The slow work of God” (p. 128). We have been blessed with all the resources we need to participate in God’s holy life and work.

As a pastor many people share how hard they think my job is.  It can be, but the joys always outweigh the strain.  I am so blessed and honored to share in your lives.  To be part of the ones who points the path toward growth in scripture, tradition, reason and experience.  When I take on the responsibility of being the face of God, I can take things too personally and get bogged down.  But, when I walk with you as a fellow disciple pointing the flashlight towards light switches for you to turn on, I am free to be myself and honored to share in God’s work.  I know that it takes all of us to be church.  Not just in our building, but in our neighborhoods, on our commutes, in the silent and lonely places of our world.  We are the people of God, we are the ones chosen, not to be better than, but to stand with people in need.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.  Thank you for letting God work in and through you, shinning out into our community, sharing the love and nurture people are longing for.  Thank you too for supporting the amazing ministries God calls us to.

Grace and peace, Pastor Emily <><

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Sand Creek Massacre

It was almost 150 years ago- a massacre on a large scale.  Death of women and children and some of the Chiefs.  The tribes were Cheyenne and Arapaho, the same tribes around our area here in Berthoud at that time.  They were forced onto the land by Governor Evans June 24, 1864.  They moved onto the sandy desert type land even though there was nothing to hunt.  They were forced to beg food from surrounding settlers.  It was rough enough, and then to top it all off, slaughter.

Colonel Chivington led the 3rd Colorado volunteers, but they had seen no action.  He was always ready for a fight.  It didn’t matter that they had to kidnap Robert Bent to lead the way.  The United Methodist pastor was determined to have a fight. Over 600 men rode with him from Denver to the Sand creek reservation.   They drank whiskey the whole way to stave off the winter chill.  So, by the time they arrived at dawn on November 29, 1864 many of the “soldiers” were drunk.

Though both a United States flag and a white flag of surrender were flying on Chief Black Kettle’s teepee, neither dissuaded Chivington from his plan.  The atrocities of shooting all they could commenced early in the morning.  The women and children were most vulnerable.  Many scrambled to escape the gunfire, and some succeeded, but those who could not numbered almost 200 people.  The Volunteers mutilated the bodies and brought back with them souvenirs of their arrogant killing spree.

Atrocities like these were committed over and over in the west.  The few who stood up to Chivington like Captain Silas Soule and Lieutenant Joseph Cramer are remembered as the heroes of the day.  There were others who saw that the massacre was wrong, but these are the men who helped testify about what Chivington and his men did.

There were many brave men that day.  Men who tried to protect their families and their band.  Some even got away and shared their experiences with their loved ones.  The passing of time in 1999 allowed for the creation of a healing run from Sand Creek to Denver once a year.  The healing has been initiated by ancestors of those who died in the attack.  Although this is where the healing starts, unless we share in this relationship, the hoped for healing may never come.

This past weekend in Berthoud was another step on the healing path.  Jan Iron and the Iron Family Singers and Dancers brought the vibrant sound of the drums and the beauty of their dance to remember and honor those who lost their lives at Sand Creek and the members of family who still suffer from those losses.  They sang a memorial song for those who were killed in such a brutal way.  We learned and listened together for the hope from the Jingle dress dance and saw the tradition of dance kept alive.  In spite of all the atrocities that native peoples have experienced, they still sing.  They keep the songs, language and dance alive to honor their ancestors.

This time of healing was a blessing for those who attended.  We shared together in a round dance to remind us that all in a circle are equal.  I hope that as we come to the act of repentance at Annual Conference this too will be another step in the path of healing.  We can know the story, but to live the relationship today we must invest ourselves in more than listening.  We have been invite to the Northern Colorado Pow-Wow in Fort Collins June 7th-8th.  Participating in this is one way we can continue to extend relationship.  Our pilgrimage to Sand Creek on Friday June 20th will be a step towards healing and add to the blessings of healing work that has been continually a part of the ancestors of those killed at Sand Creek for this past 150 years.


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A blank page has been inviting to me since I was about five years old. The idea of a whole story ready to be told or written is exciting. A similar newness has dawned in the beginning of a new year. Fresh untouched blankets of snow, waiting to be walked across, have captured my attention during this new part of this new year. Snow fields and blank pages are equally inviting to me. It seems this year as though there are many things that can be done. We are starting a new chapter with a new youth coordinator. We are looking ahead to a new year filled with opportunities, but just now, no foot has fallen. No paths are worn down, we have a fresh start in front of us. It is at this time that new ideas start to come to us about what can be done.

The hope is upon us. New studies to share. A new pattern of discipline in faithful devotion.

God of holy newness, thank you for a fresh start. Thank you for fields of untainted snow which remind us again of possibility. You invite us to delight in the new. Today, I thank you for this invitation. Again, I accept. Amen

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